Brian Birdwell in his book Refined by Fire wrote, “We all face personal fires—those life-changing, traumatic times when the course of our lives are altered.” On September 11, 2001, terrorists hijacked and crashed American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon. MAJ Brian Birdwell was so close to the impact area that the ensuing explosion burned 60% of his body. He endured over thirty surgeries, fought off numerous life-threatening infections and suffered continuous horrific pain to the point that he “begged God constantly to let me die.”
The natural response for most victims to catastrophic suffering is bitterness. “Why me?” is the two-word cry screamed to heaven. Yet while Brian struggles to forgive the terrorists who took 125 lives at the Pentagon and almost 3000 lives from the four coordinated attacks, he refused bitterness and chose betterness. “They see my scars. That’s authenticity.” The authenticity that Brian writes about is the living proof that God exists and that His grace is ample in taking us through the worst trials we could imagine.
John 16:33—I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.
Brian is a man of valor. The proof of courage is not when we fight from a position of strength but rather the ability to proceed in weakness. Jesus warned we would face suffering in the world. He was not concerned by this reality. His intent was that we would grasp two things—courage and peace. Courage comes from believing that ultimately no matter what we face, Jesus wins. Peace comes from the belief that God is in control. This is why Brian could say:“In those seconds inside the Pentagon when I was on fire, going from the struggle to survive to acknowledging the reality of my death, I went from panic to calm. Who else can provide that except Christ?”
The Apostle Paul, no stranger to suffering, wrote in his letter to the Corinthians, “So because of Christ, I am pleased in weaknesses, in insults, in catastrophes, in persecutions, and in pressures. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Co. 12:10). “Because of Christ”—those three words separate us from defeat, define our heritage, glorify the Author, and imbue us with valor. Something to think about . . . in reveration!
©2011 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)