BURNED, BURNED OUT, OR ON FIRE (Article) by Abidan Paul Shah
(Published in the newspaper Daily Dispatch, Henderson on October 9, 2019)
(This article is written in honor of our Firefighters during Fire Prevention Week 2019)
What is the difference between being burned, being burned out, and being on fire? To be burned means to be badly disappointed or let down by someone you trusted. To be burned out means to be mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted. To be on fire means to be passionate and excited about something. As a pastor, I hear a lot of burned and burned out stories—“I trusted so and so and they burned me” or “I gave everything I had to this job or relationship and I am just burned out.”
In the Bible we come across 3 individuals who had every reason to claim that they had been burned or they were burned out but they chose to be on fire. Their names were Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. We know them as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. They were young men who had been taken into exile by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. If you remember, God had warned the people of Judah that if they didn’t repent, they would lose the land and that’s exactly what happened. These young people had been ripped away from their families and taken 700 miles across the hot desert to a land they had never seen. Their leaders had failed them by repeatedly leading them towards evil. Talk about being burned! Instead of going through life claiming that they had been burned, they chose to place their hope in God.
Principle #1–We get burned when we have unrealistic expectations of others. Human beings will disappoint you, especially those who are closest to you. You will never get burned if you hope in God.
Something else, the young men aspired to live a holy life in a sinful land. Instead of eating from the king’s banquet table and drinking his wine, they chose to eat just vegetables and drink water. Imagine eating that day in and day out. I would call that a recipe for getting burned out! They didn’t because they knew they had to remain pure for a greater purpose. They were the remnant of Israel called to preserve their identity as God’s people.
Principle 2–We get burned out when we lose sight of the bigger picture. Going through the motions is the quickest way to grow weary. You will never get burned out if you do everything unto God.
Things became difficult for the three Hebrew men in Babylon. In Daniel 3 King Nebuchadnezzar set up a gold statue and commanded all people to bow before it. If they refused, they would be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. Of course, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego refused. As a consequence, the furnace was heated up seven times and they were tied in their clothes and taken to the furnace. It was so hot that it killed those men who were escorting them. But, then something happened. Verse 25 “Look! I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.” God joined them in the furnace! Jesus himself provided for them the first Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus! The young men were called out and examined—verse 27 “… they saw these men on whose bodies the fire had no power; the hair of their head was not singed nor were their garments affected, and the smell of fire was not on them.” That was the first Turnout Gear! The reason they were not burned is because the fire in them was far stronger than the fire that was outside of them!
Principle #3–We can withstand any fire down below if we are on fire from up above. False idols will not protect you from the fires of life. Money, relationships, career, goals, accomplishments, hobby, etc. are good in their place but they cannot protect us from being burned or being burned out. Christ in you is greater than he that is in the world.
“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:6-7)