The God Who Is There
On October 16, 1555, Masters Nicholas Ridley and Hugh Latimer, two protestant believers in Oxford, England, to use Isaiah the prophet’s words, passed “through the waters . . . through the rivers . . . through the fire.” Though martyred for their faith in Christ and the Bible, their deaths did nothing but cause the flames of faith to blaze even higher in England.
Bound to the stake with chains, with bags of gunpowder tied round their necks, they died in the very presence of God. When the torch was laid at the feet of Dr. Ridley, Latimer cried out, “Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man. We shall this day light such a candle, by God’s grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out.” As the flames crept higher, Ridley quoted his Lord, crying, “Lord, Lord receive my spirit,” with Latimer rejoining, “O Father of heaven, receive my soul!” Latimer died quickly, but because the fire was slow to reach Ridley’s upper body, his lower extremities were consumed while he was still alive. Still, his conversation with God continued: “Lord have mercy upon me. Let the fire come unto me.”
Why is it that Daniel in the lions’ den, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace, Stephen in a pit of rocks, and countless martyrs like Latimer and Ridley have known God’s presence in their hour of testing? Because he promised he would be there, and they took him at his word: “I will be with you . . . [waters] will not sweep over you . . . you will not be burned” (Isa. 43:2). But, the skeptic will say, “Many were not rescued. Ridley and Latimer were burned in the fire.” No, Ridley’s and Latimer’s bodies were burned—Ridley and Latimer were saved by the presence of God.
God does not call all believers to suffer unto death, not does he call any believer to suffer apart from his presence. If you are tested along with other believers, you will find comfort in their presence. But the next time you are being tested alone, remember that you are not. God has promised to be with you—and he is.
God’s Promise to You: “You never walk through any valley alone; I am with you.”