Reader’s letter: Has the smell of smoke gone yet?


ChanĂ© Uys, daughter of a Theunissen farmer hit by last month’s fires, writes:

Have the peasant women got those clothes clean yet? Have the ashes been dusted off their shoes? How many callers are referred? Did the farmers leave their cattle’s corpses in the field or were they driven away in a procession after all the grief and damage? How insignificant is man against nature? How defenseless and powerless when a wind comes up and the fire’s flames spread destruction over the lands like the tongue of a dragon.

I am the daughter of a farmer. But, actually I am the daughter of so much more. A farmer is not only a farmer, but also a veterinarian, a fireman, a weatherman, a soil expert, a metalsmith, a comforter, a carer, a servant, a leader, a friend, a father, a son, a helping hand , a true Adam who gives names to each of his animals.

How does one begin to describe what is lost in the blink of an eye? And where do you start to raise your head again, look up and rebuild from scratch? I think so much today of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace in Daniel 3. In a moment before King Nebuchadnezzar where the options were give in or give up, the choice between life (eternal life) and death; and these three men put their full trust in God. Without hesitation, without thinking twice.

What is even more impressive to me is their faith which says that even if God did not save them from the fiery furnace, they would still trust in Him and honor His Name above all names (Daniel 3:17-18). How many farmers had been in their own furnace in the past month? With flames that feel seven times hotter than normal. In a moment where the options vary between giving up and giving in, the choice is between life and death, and these farmers decide to fight.

The farmers step into the fiery furnace believing that God will save them and even if He doesn’t, there will be no signs of wavering in their faith. There are times in our lives where we end up in the fiery furnace and the only way we will survive it is if we have God by our side. God uses times of hardship to purify us, just as gold and silver are purified in the fire.

A life in full devotion to God is not a guaranteed life without pain, but it is a life filled with the promise that you will never stand alone in the fire. A promise that even if everything burns down around you, your hair won’t be singed and your clothes won’t smell of smoke. When God brings us rain, and the cows that survived calve again and the grass is green again, and the farmers can breathe again, I know and I believe that every tongue will testify.

God is bigger, stronger and better than any of the discord that satan wants to sow. God sees all and knows all and is in control of all. And just as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego at the end of the day, because of their faith, were held with even higher positions in the province of Babel, God will bless every farmer with double what they lost. And they will walk out of the fiery furnace unscathed.