Recently our family took a fabulous road trip in our Minnie Winnie up through California into Oregon. It took us a few days, and a blown tire outside of Redding, to reach the coast, but when we made it, we collectively inhaled. You read that right. We IN-haled. We breathed in the fresh, crisp Oregon ocean air. It was a good 40 degrees cooler in Oregon than it was at home. Our first night at the campground we all sat outside around a campfire, roasting marshmallows and enjoying the warmth of the burning logs. My two-year-old even fell asleep in my arms.
The next morning (before the sun was even up), my little guy climbed into our bed and snuggled right up next to my face. I opened my eyes and looked lovingly into his sweet face and said, “DUDE! You stink!” That glorious campfire had left his Mickey jammies, his hair, and his skin smelling like smoke and ash.
That’s what is so amazing to me about the Bible’s, Old Testament story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. If you have ever read it, you know that these three guys were sentenced to be thrown INTO a fire, and yet they survived. As amazing as that is, the best part of the whole story for me is Daniel 3:27 that says, “the fire had not harmed them, their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.” Did you catch that?! They were literally IN a fire and they didn’t smell!!
Wow. It made me wonder….what do I smell like after I have been through a trial and feel like I have been thrown into a figurative fire?
Do I continue to smell like my trial? Do I continue to reek of hardship? Do I tell anyone who will listen about why life isn’t fair? Or do I smell like the sweetness of deliverance? Do I come out on the other side giving praise or giving self-pity?
“To those who grieve, he will bestow a crown of beauty for ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.” Isaiah 61:3
Almost a year ago, my uncle passed away after a long and difficult battle with ALS. My precious aunt advocated for him, supported him, and took care of his daily needs for years. It would be easy for bitterness to be her fortress. Instead, she has chosen to give praise. She has shared that grief and joy can and do exist together. In 2 Corinthians 6:10, Paul shared that he was, “Sorrowful yet always rejoicing.”
Dear Lord, may we all be so mindful to remember that you are ever present, even in our trials. May our hearts remember to rejoice so that our lives can be a sweet fragrance of your goodness.