When Fire Seems Unbearable

A lovely Boreal forest in the Yukon

Have you ever met anyone who has never, ever faced misfortune, trials, or any kind of problems?

I certainly never have, though newborn babies come close! But then, even newborns could claim calamity 101. Think about it! They are forced out of their tranquil environment into a cold, bright world of utter turmoil! After all, hospitals are often quite hectic places!

How much would you be willing to give for a trouble-free life? Or better yet, how much would such a life be worth? $5? $10? $20? $100? What about $1000? Can we actually even put a price on it? Probably not, but wouldn't it be nice if we could? We'd all be heading out to the bank for a loan!

The point is, if given the choice, we would all avoid trouble. Nature however, teaches us to look at our problems a bit differently . . .

While leisurely admiring one of Yukon's greatest forests, the Boreal Forest, we came across an interpretive sign labelled "The Benefits of Fire." You can be sure that it attracted our attention. Is there, in all reality, any benefit to a forest fire?

We learned that there sure is! Periodic fires are an important part of the life of a forest, especially the Boreal Forest. Fires get rid of old growth that hinders light from penetrating the deep woods. This light encourages the growth of new life, thus creating new environmental conditions for both plants and animals.

It can be said that the most ideal place for plants and animals is in a mature forest which has many large patches of burned areas. New plants thrive in burned areas because the charred remains make excellent fertilizer. Moose and snowshoe hare thrive on the lush green shoots of aspen and willows, and the low shrubs and grasses that appear after forest fires. Predators cannot help but follow their prey in these areas, with the wolf following the moose and the lynx following the hare . . .

I could go on, but you get my point. Natural forest fires are good for forests. But what does this have to do with us? Isn't it true that the "forest fires" (trials) in our lives only produce headaches and nightmares? Especially when we are in the middle of them?

It certainly does seem that way; however, James, the brother of Jesus, tells us to perceive trials differently: "Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way." (James 1:2-4 The Message)

Just like forest fires are beneficial to the Boreal Forest of the Yukon, trials and tribulations are also beneficial to our lives. They can bring us maturity, and they help us develop the joy of knowing God.

James also encourages us to depend on our Heavenly Father when facing trials, and help will be provided. Guaranteed! "If you don't know what you're doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You'll get his help, and won't be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought." (James 1:5-6 The Message)

It also helps us to be aware that these kinds of things are unavoidable. In fact, we can expect them: "Not that the troubles should come as any surprise to you. You've always known that we're in for this kind of thing. It's part of our calling." (1 Thess 3:3 The Message)

Friends, there is no better way to face trouble than by leaning on our Advocate, the One who promises us rest even amidst tumult! "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (Matt 11:28 NIV)

Have you seen a hare anywhere? I am looking for the lynx that just escaped our local zoo. Nothing to worry about! He was just fed and is only looking for a snack for now. I am certain he is after that hare. Unless he finds you instead . . .

Rob Chaffart

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