Does Anybody Care?
|By: Nancy Missler; ©2001|
|During difficult times we often get the feeling that we are nobodies, that there isn’t anybody who cares what we are going through. Our soul becomes a battlefield of confusion, hurt feelings and broken dreams.|
Like a “Nobody”
A strong feeling that we will often have during difficult times in our lives is the feeling that “we are a nobody.” Because, if we were a “somebody,” then at least others would care.
What seems to compound the problem is that when we don’t hear and see God as we once did, we naturally turn our eyes and our attention “horizontally” to our spouses, our families and our friends. However, because they are not experiencing what we are experiencing, they don’t understand what we are talking about, and they don’t respond as we wish. This, of course, makes us feel even more insignificant, lowly and dispensable and creates tremendous insecurity, hesitancy and lack of confidence on our part.
On top of all this, many of our old “friends” seem to forsake us, acquaintances remain far from us and we become the subject of ridicule and gossip. False accusations, hurtful remarks and negative reports are hurled at us. As a result of all of this, we feel absolutely desolate and alone. We feel broken and shattered, smashed and pruned, chiseled and stripped of everything we hold dear.
Psalm 88:8 expresses it perfectly, “Thou hast put away mine acquaintance far from me; Thou hast made me an abomination unto them: I am shut up, and I cannot come forth.” And verse 18, “Lover and friend hast Thou put far from me….”
The horrible part is that there is no one we can run to. No one understands. God seems to have slammed His door on us. And, we certainly don’t have “refuge” among our friends or our family, some of who are now openly ashamed of us and don’t even want to be seen with us. Some have even have renounced us.
As David said, “…for Thy sake I have borne reproach; Shame hath covered my face. I am become a stranger unto my brethren, And an alien unto my mother’s children.” (Psalm 69:7-8)
Our soul has literally become a battlefield of confusion, hurt feelings and broken dreams.
Like a Log on Fire
There are several excellent analogies in the Bible that perfectly describe how we “feel,” going through the dark night of the soul. They also explain a little more clearly why God has allowed these events to take place.
The first Scriptural analogy that conveys how we might feel at this time is, like a “log of wood on fire.” First, the fire dehumidifies the wood; then it turns it black and ugly; next, it transforms the wood by burning it up; and finally, the log becomes one with the fire.
We could say that the log of wood is analogous to our soul and the fire is analogous to God’s Love. The Bible often speaks of God as a consuming fire. Because He loves us so much, the Word tells us that, at one time or another in our life, we all will be “salted with fire.” God wants all of our sin and self-centeredness to be burned up and to peel away, so that He can bring us into complete union with Himself. In other words, He burns us up in order to make us “one” with Himself, just like the log of wood eventually becomes one with the fire.
Being salted with fire means that God wants to “burn up” our dazzling outward complexion, so that all our defects will be exposed. Once they are exposed and we see them for ourselves, then we have the choice to either give them to God and be rid of them forever, or hold on to them and let them consume us. Unless we freely give these things over to God, we force Him to turn up the heat on us.
The baptism of fire exposes our imperfections and our defects, because this is the fuel that catches on fire and these are the things that block and prevent our experiential union with God. Once these imperfections are gone, the fire will cease and our joy will return. The fire of God’s Love will not only consume and enlighten us, it will also transform us more into God’s image (i.e., make us “one”), just like the fire and the log.
Like Gold in the Refiner’s Fire
Another great Scriptural analogy as to how we might feel going through the dark night is like gold in a refiner’s fire. A refiner’s fire is the only thing that can purify gold, and that can separate the impurities and the foreign matter from the gold. In other words, fire is the only thing that melts and dissolves the dross by force.
The refining process begins at a low heat and is then gradually increased. Over and over again, the gold must be cast back into the fire of the furnace until, at last, every trace of pollution is gone. The gold must stay in the fire until there is proof that it no longer needs purification. Only the refiner Himself can see the gold’s impurities. Once the gold is finally purified, the fire will not be able to touch it any more and all future imperfections will simply “brush off.”
As we have learned, God is a consuming fire and He alone can refine us. On our own, we would never consent to the fire and its purging. Only God can separate the dross, the dregs and the slag of sin and self-centeredness in each of us. Only He knows our secret sins and the masked selfishness of our souls.
As Psalm 105:19 says, “The Word of the Lord tried him.” The meaning of the word, “tried” conveys exactly what God is doing in each of our lives: purging us in order to fuse us with Himself. The fire of God’s Love purges us in order to fuse us with Himself—i.e., make us one. As Job said, “When He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10)
In order to experience oneness with God, He must burn up everything in us that is not of Him. He must excrete all the “dross” because that’s what prevents our alliance and our union with Him. Christ cannot be formed in us when there is impurity. The name of this impurity is “sin” and “self” and these are fatal to our union with Christ. Thus, the fire of God’s Love burns away all the impurities in us and at the same time, He brightens (or enlightens) us and brings forth the gold of holiness.
Malachi 3:3 says it all, “He shall sit like a refiner and purifier of silver: and He shall purify… and purge them like gold and silver that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.”
God purges our soul, as only He knows how to do, by breaking it layer by layer. When all the flaws are completely exposed and removed, then will we be able to dwell in, enjoy and experience His presence and His fulness.
It’s true that the crucible of God’s fire is where all our hopes and dreams are dashed to pieces and broken, and where we sacrifice all that we have and all that we are to Him. But, it’s also true that the furnace of God’s Love is where we receive, in exchange, all that God is and all that He possesses.
All precious metals need to be tested. We are no different. Did you know that a diamond was once a piece of dirty carbon and that it can be found in plain old gravel pits? I was fascinated when I first heard this, because we, too, start off as a grimy piece of stone plucked up from the “wayside,” but after many times in the Refiner’s fire, we, too, can come forth as a diamond, glittering and shining in God’s eyes. God is a jealous God and He wants us perfect and complete for Himself.
“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ. ” (1 Peter 1:7)
Like a Sacrifice on the Brazen Altar
A third Scriptural analogy of how we might feel going through the dark night, is like a sacrifice on the Brazen Altar. In the Inner Court of Solomon’s Temple, the sacrifices on the Brazen Altar were called an olah. An olah was an offering that was totally consumed by fire and thus, gave off a sweet savor to God.
All sin was dealt with by sacrificing offerings on the Brazen Altar. The sacrifices were first bound to the altar, then killed with a knife, cut, divided and the meat separated from the bones and muscle. Then the sacrifice was “salted with fire,” wholly and completely burnt and the resulting odor of sweet savor ascended towards God. Finally, the glory of God came down from heaven and consumed the offering on the altar, which meant that it was acceptable and well pleasing in God’s sight.
Any offering that was reduced to ashes meant that its acceptance was complete. To accept actually meant to turn to ashes. The ashes from the sacrifice were a witness as to how entirely the work had been completed. The priests would then remove the ashes from the Brazen Altar to a clean place outside the camp and they became the record of death.
Isaiah 61:3 says, “To appoint unto them who mourn…to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness…that He might be glorified.”
Romans 12:1 tells us that we are to offer our own bodies as a “living sacrifice.” We are to climb up on that Brazen Altar and freely present our bodies as offerings in righteousness. Just like those sacrifices in Solomon’s Temple, we are to allow ourselves to be bound to that altar; we are to let God cut, divide and separate the soulish things in our lives from the spiritual; we are to be salted with fire and, then, be wholly and completely burnt. This is the way God has designed for our sin and self-centeredness to be purged, so that we will be acceptable and well pleasing in God’s sight.
The problem I encountered in my own dark night was that I didn’t stay strapped on that Brazen Altar. I had willingly gotten up there and had “verbally” offered my body as a living sacrifice to God, but when He began to cut and separate out the soulish things in my life, I screamed and jumped off. Presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice is just the beginning. In order to enter the Holy Place of God’s presence, we must not only present our bodies as living sacrifices, but we must also remain on that altar while God separates the soulish things from the spiritual.
Ephesians 5:2 tells us to follow Jesus’ example, “Walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor.”