Have you experienced an “unjust or cruel exercise of authority or power”? Have you been “weighed down in body or mind?”
Then you’ve experienced the fire of oppression.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary’s definition of Oppression is as follows:
1a : unjust or cruel exercise of authority or power
b : something that oppresses especially in being an unjust or excessive exercise of power
2: a sense of being weighed down in body or mind: depression
Why fire of oppression? The New Living Translation is the one to add “oppression,” the other translations I’ve looked up talk only about the fire.
Fire can do two things: It can give light and warmth, and it can destroy. I think by adding “oppression” the translators wanted to make sure we get the severity of how destructive this fire could be.
To experience the “unjust and cruel exercise of authority or power” can certainly create tremendous flames of fire. We might think the heat of our situation will burn us alive…
I had to think of a few situations that felt like “fire of oppression” in the course of my life:
– There was this department of public servants who enjoyed exercising their (unjust and often cruel) authority and power over this single mother who had been divorced in another country and had had the audacity to change her and her children’s last names in a foreign country. I kid you not if I tell you they made me visit their offices every single Wednesday for one or another reason for one full year! The demands they came up every week would take a book to fill! Talk about going through the fire of oppression!
– When I think of the destructive side of fire, I also think of times when this single mother was pulled and pushed in so many directions… Everyone had an opinion on what my life should look like. From family members to friends and colleagues, there was no shortage of (mostly) harsh words and criticism. Today I’m especially grateful for the few people during that particularly difficult time who did encourage me, who did have kind words to say to me.
I love God’s promise here:
“You will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.”
And again, I’m living proof of how God keeps His promises.
“Christ does not always immediately calm the storm, but He is always willing to calm His child on the basis of His presence.” Beth Moore in “Breaking Free”
Looking back I also know God was doing some work in me: my character needed some major shaping, and God used those fires, as much as I hated them, to burn away some pride, stubbornness, and a whole lot of pain.
During that time God also showed me my priorities in that first year after my divorce. I had three little children to raise. As scary as that responsibility was, I had His promise: I would not be burned. The flames would not consume me.
“We’ll probably never learn to enjoy our storms, but we can learn to enjoy God’s presence in the storm!” Beth Moore in “Breaking Free”
Are you in the midst of a storm? Are you going through a time of fire? You are not alone! Look to God’s presence in your circumstances! He is there!