"I wish He'd turn me over. My backside's crispy gettin' crispy." That's what came out of my mouth several nights ago, walking the road with my favorite person in the whole, wide world, Mr. Schrock.
The rains had come. Drought still gripped the land, but the liquid gold, so long delayed, had begun to fall, transforming brown landscapes with advancing shades of green.
In our lives, we'd felt the drought. Felt the all-consuming heat of trial by fire. Knew what it was, being tested in a furnace that, instead of abating, only seemed to heat up further.
It was hot, all around the countryside, and it was searing in the furnace. Stress. Pressure. Struggles, intense. Exhaustion of every kind. Yes, it was hot in here.
At night, we'd work it through. Walking in the blazing heat with the smell of the corn in the air, sweat dripping, we'd talk it out as we walked it out. "Two are better than one," Solomon had said, and we were learning the truth of that for sure. "A cord of three strands is not quickly broken."
Three strands. Two people. One furnace. Where was God?
Which is basically what I cried one night there on that road. Mr. Schrock, listening, merely nodded. "...and I don't understand why there's no rest? Why there's never a break? Why He just doesn't seem to move? It doesn't seem like praying helps. It feels like He's forgotten; like He's just left me here in the furnace."
And then this, "I wish He'd turn me over. I think my backside's crispy."
He laughed, and I hiccuped. I'd only been half joking.
Three strands. Two people. One furnace. And long ago, in another time, another place, there'd been three in the furnace, and then a fourth.
A fourth. The fourth man in the furnace! Oh, I knew it was true. Knew that no matter how it looked or how it felt, there was an extra Man in the fire, standing alongside. He was watching, always; listening, ever; guarding, oh so closely, making sure that the flames never got too high or too hot. In spite of how it looked and felt.
You - hey, you! You there, walking in your own furnace testing. Feeling, too, the blistering heat of a trial. Sure that your own backside is way past crispy. Taking blows that never stop coming...
From one furnace dweller to another, you are not alone. You've not been abandoned, forsaken, forgotten. You are carefully watched, protected, and guarded, for the Fourth Man walks, too, with you. Take heart.