Isaiah 43:2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. It's difficult to watch our news cycle these days and not feel an immense burden of sadness, and maybe even hopelessness, for the state of our country. The current political race notwithstanding, the seemingly endless list of bombings, shootings, an increasing racial divide, and climate of distrust and insecurity is impossible to ignore. And as believers, we shouldn't turn a blind eye to it, but I find myself wondering how to stand firm in the fire without being engulfed by the flames... how to battle the inferno when it seems that all I'm holding is a squirt gun. I was encouraged recently as I was thinking back to an old Beth Moore study that reminded us, per the Old Testament scripture in Isaiah, that though we will most assuredly walk through fire, God will lead us through it, and when we come to the other side, we won't even smell like smoke. Wow. Can you picture it? Even when I blow out one of my favorite Anne Neilson Home candles, a small furl of smoke lingers, but as Christians, God has equipped us to walk right through the heat of hell without any evidence on the other side. I was also revisiting The Circle Maker, a powerful book on prayer by Mark Batterson, that spent time asking whether we are praying our way through an issue, or whether we're trying to pray our way out of it. Too many times I fall prey (no pun intended!) to prayers that are too escapist and too simple, "Lord, please deliver me out of this battlefield," but He already displayed His commitment to us, when He delivered the Israelites out of Egypt by having them cross through the waters of the Red Sea. He delivered them into the Promised Land after having them journey through the wilderness. He displayed the faith and strength of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego by allowing them to stand through the fires of a furnace. Maybe God is asking us as a community of faithful not to pray around the issues that seem too big or overwhelming, maybe instead He is reminding us that the fires are inevitable, but His leadership through them is sure. Let's link hands and take the steps through side by side.