“They sang the song of Moses the servant of God and the song of the Lamb: “Great and astounding are your deeds, Lord God, the All-Powerful! Just and true are your ways, King over the nations!” Revelation 15:3
The following incident is related by Mrs. Charles Spurgeon, who was a great sufferer for more than a quarter of a century:
“At the close of a dark and gloomy day, I lay resting on my couch as the deeper night drew on; and though all was bright within my cozy room, some of the external darkness seemed to have entered into my soul and obscured its spiritual vision. Vainly I tried to see the Hand which I knew held mine, and guided my fog-enveloped feet along a steep and slippery path of suffering. In sorrow of heart I asked,
“’Why does my Lord thus deal with His child? Why does He so often send sharp and bitter pain to visit me? Why does He permit lingering weakness to hinder the sweet service I long to render to His poor servants?’
“These fretful questions were quickly answered, and through a strange language; no interpreter was needed save the conscious whisper of my heart.
“For a while silence reigned in the little room, broken only by the crackling of the oak log burning in the fireplace. Suddenly I heard a sweet, soft sound, a little, clear, musical note, like the tender trill of a robin beneath my window.
“’What can it be? surely no bird can be singing out there at this time of the year and night.’
“Again came the faint, plaintive notes, so sweet, so melodious, yet mysterious enough to provoke our wonder. My friend exclaimed, “‘It comes from the log on the fire!’ The fire was letting loose the imprisoned music from the old oak’s inmost heart!
“Perchance he had garnered up this song in the days when all was well with him, when birds twittered merrily on his branches, and the soft sunlight flecked his tender leaves with gold. But he had grown old since then, and hardened; ring after ring of knotty growth had sealed up the long-forgotten melody, until the fierce tongues of the flames came to consume his callousness, and the vehement heart of the fire wrung from him at once a song and a sacrifice. ’Ah,’ thought I, ’when the fire of affliction draws songs of praise from us, then indeed we are purified, and our God is glorified!’
“Perhaps some of us are like this old oak log, cold, hard, insensible; we should give forth no melodious sounds, were it not for the fire which kindles around us, and releases notes of trust in Him, and cheerful compliance with His will.
“’As I mused the fire burned,’ and my soul found sweet comfort in the parable so strangely set forth before me.
“Singing in the fire! Yes, God helping us, if that is the only way to get harmony out of these hard apathetic hearts, let the furnace be heated seven times hotter than before.” (Streams in the Desert)
Home renovation shows are quite popular on television, and I confess my wife and I enjoy them. Our favorite is one filmed in our home town by a couple who often take on projects others would consider hopeless. At the end of each program they pull back large screens to reveal the finished product, a stunning climax of unexpected proportion. The more dire the structure’s original condition, the more pronounced is the transformation that follows. Neglected and abused dwellings become surprising showcases of creativity and ingenuity.
No one but a misguided ascetic seeks out pain and hardship, yet trials have potential for calling forth the best in us. Adversity is the grand reveal; suffering discloses the heart in a way nothing else can. May the next fire I encounter or ignite release imprisoned music from this old oak’s inmost heart!