by Howard and Jeanne Tomlinson


Passing Through the Fire

Is there a way to pass through the fires of adversity and not get burned?  Like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego of Biblical times, we learned the secret of safely passing through the fires with our faith intact.

Following his brain surgery, Howie’s doctors told him he would need radiation treatment.  His surgery had removed 75% of the tumor and radiation would burn the remainder.  Knowing the potential for harm, we prayed for wisdom as we researched this treatment.  God answered by supplying the information and help we needed.
    We joined the National Brain Tumor Association and ordered booklets that describe tumors and methods of treatment.  We also called Dr. Malkin, Howie’s neurologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering, for advice.  He told us that wholebrain radiation was not necessary and recommended treatment only on the right side of the brain.  Because radiation takes place daily over a six-week period, Dr. Malkin also recommended we find a facility close to home.
    We decided to check out a location on Long Island, so met with a radiologist in Stony Brook.  He said Howie needed whole-brain radiation and shared that his memory could be significantly affected by it.  Neither one of us felt peace about his advice and quickly left the office.
    We called Dr. Malkin back and shared our frustrations.  He recommended Dr. Bosworth at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset.  When we met with this doctor, he immediately put our minds at ease.  He shared that Howie didn’t need whole-brain radiation and assured us that the treatment would not affect his memory.  We felt a great peace in our hearts and praised God for leading us to the right doctor.  We asked everyone we knew to pray for Howie’s protection during the next six weeks.
    On April 30, 1993, Howie began the fiery trial of radiation treatment to the brain.  As we drove to the hospital each day, we rejoiced to see beautiful blossoms appearing on the trees and flowers growing everywhere.  Spring reminded us that there was hope for our future, for our God is the God of new beginnings!
    While Howie was being treated, I sat praying in the waiting room.  On the days I was unable to go, Howie’s dad or Pastor Smith drove him to the treatment.  Howie took several nutritional supplements and felt great throughout the six weeks.  His only noticeable side effect was some hair loss on the right side of his head.  Following treatment, Dr. Bosworth told Howie to keep his head covered during that summer, because of the risk of additional burning.  So Howie started a hat collection which eventually numbered 40.  His friends were always wondering which one he would wear next!
    Because of the surgery and radiation, Howie had not been working for the Long Island Railroad for five months.  It was now time to return.  He went back to work full-time on June 30, 1993, and had only one or two sick days for the next three years!  We were very thankful that God protected Howie’s brain from the burning of radiation treatment and that there was no memory loss!

This passage from Scripture was a great encouragement to us as Howie underwent radiation: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine!  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you” (Isaiah 43:1-2).  Throughout history, God has preserved many men of conviction who refused to deny Him.  Daniel was protected from the mouths of the lions (Daniel 6) and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were not even burned while in the fiery furnace (Daniel 3).  We’re safer in a fiery furnace with the Lord than we are in the most peaceful haven without Him!
    In addition to His protection, God also uses fiery trials to test our faith.  Gold must be heated to the melting point to burn away the dross.  Likewise, when we are tested, the dross of sin and selfishness is removed and our faith comes forth more precious than gold, “that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (I Peter 1:7).

(Hymn by unknown composer, based on
II Timothy 2:19, Hebrews 13:5, and Isaiah 43:1,2)
Verse 3
When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee, I only design
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.
For Those Who Hurt

You may be in the midst of the fires of adversity right now, wondering if you’re going to be consumed.  Have no fear.  Call out to the Lord and trust in His care.  As He did with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, He can be there for you and keep the fires from destroying you.  Allow God to use the fiery trial to refine you and burn away the dross of sin and self-will.  As you pass this test of your faith, you may even come forth as gold!



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Chapter 13: The Pit of Despair Table of Contents Chapter 15: God’s Special Forces