An interesting truth found throughout the Bible is that God’s people speak of His protection while in the midst of situations in which His protection appears to be absent. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are perfect examples. These men trusted God to the brink of death. There were so many opportunities that God could have used to show His might. He could have helped them escape before the Chaldeans brought them before King Nebuchadnezzar. He could have softened the heart of the king and had them released. He could have caused the furnace to break, or supernaturally go out so it couldn’t be heated. There are countless ways God could have come to their rescue and kept them safe from the wrath of King Nebuchadnezzar.
As I was reading through their story in Daniel 3: 8-30, I wondered if the men ever became anxious as they looked to God and expectantly waited for Him to save them. With each passing moment, the possibility of their death became more of a reality. Every scenario in which God could have but didn’t show up with a visible act of grandeur to overtake their enemies would have produced only one of two results. It could have caused their faith to intensify or unravel little by little. It didn’t unravel. Amazingly, their faith rooted itself deeper into their hearts and strengthened their resolve. In Daniel 3:17-18 they say, “If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” They knew God was able but didn’t know if it was God’s will to save them. They loved and trusted Him all the same. Their deliverance wasn’t preemptive. They were captured, and a sentence of death was set. They watched those who bound them be consumed by the flames. Then they fell bound into the flames themselves. God was their security through it all and in verse 27, “…Shadrach, Meschack, and Abednego came out of the fire.”
God doesn’t always prevent us from experiencing the flames and difficulties of life, but He will be with us in the fire. In fact, we are promised the flames. “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world,” Jesus says in John 16:33. Life comes with heartache and pain. It comes with loss and grief. It is messy and at times can feel unbearable. It’s not easy to hear, but the unsettling truth is that no belief, level of self-control, or person can change that.
“Life comes with heartache and pain. It comes with loss and grief. It is messy and at times can feel unbearable.
“But take heart; [Christ has] overcome the world,”
It is a constant struggle in my heart to see and experience trials in life and to hold fast to the truth that they don’t negate God’s love for me. Proof of God’s love is not in the ease of my existence, but rather in the underserved pain and suffering of Christ’s death. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life,” reads the familiar verse, John 3:16. It is so recognizable, it is easy for me to gloss over it. Whether I am suffering due to my own sin or the sin of others, I have to remind myself that I have already been given more than I deserve. “For one will scarcely die for a righteous person- though perhaps for a good person would dare even to die- God shows His love for us that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:7-8).” I have been reconciled with God, I have been counted righteous, I have been freed from sin, and I have been given untethered access to a limitless God. Life will still come with its highs and lows, but in light of those blessings, I am empowered through Christ to remain grounded through it all. The Apostle Paul reached a point in is a faith where he was “content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities (2 Corinthians 12:10).” I am certainly not at that point and don’t have the consistency of faith I would like when I face adversity. However, each struggle is building character and resolve in me that couldn’t come any other way. James 1:4 states, “For the testing of faith produces steadfastness.”
In a world full of those needing to see the truth, we can become the Shadrachs, Meshachs, and Abednegos of our generation. We can do this refusing to bury our heads in the sand as to pretend trials don’t exist. Instead of resorting to self-purposed solutions, we choose to submit to the guidance of the Word. Through ebb and flow of life, we can be transformed to develop a faith that allows God’s glory to abound. Steadfast obedience that keeps us content in Christ, is possible. One obstacle at a time we must choose not to make Christ’s Lordship conditional. Our declaration to own hearts must be, “If it is Your will God, change my circumstance. If it is not Your will, I love and trust you all the same. May Your glory be seen either way.” Christ, our example, prayed a similar prayer before His crucifixion. Not once, but three times right before His death He prayed a prayer of submission. Likewise, we must continually realign our hearts not so the situation will change, but so we will.
“We must continually realign our hearts, not so the situation will change, but so we will.”