17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.
You recall the story of Daniel’s friends; Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They refused to bow down to the idols of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. As a result they were thrown in a fiery furnace with the heat turned up seven times above normal. God honored their faith and spared them from the fire with the aid of a fourth person seen in the flames, identified as “a son of the gods.” In the end, those three men of extraordinary loyalty to God, stepped out of the furnace unscathed.
Nebuchadnezzar was a polytheist. Consequently, his observation of the fourth person in the fire came from his belief in multiple deities. Possibly an angel, but as many have concluded, a preincarnate visitation of Christ, a theophany.
I pray that you and I will never have our faith tested so severely. Countless Christians have been martyred and persecuted as followers of Christ. Undoubtedly, some caved under the threat of pain or death and denied the Lord.
We can say how we would respond in such circumstances, but we never really know what we’ll do until that day arrives.
The Apostle Peter was fully persuaded he would take his stand for Jesus. (Luke 22:54-62) But we know he didn’t. We also know Peter was restored by the Lord and that his ministry was expanded. (John 21:15-17)
There is however a testing that is common to all of us. I call it Faith Under Fire. That’s the painful experiences of life in which God has given us specific ways to respond, but our overwhelming inclination is to handle the matters our way. We find it painfully difficult and near impossible to follow God’s directives on loving our enemies, blessing those who persecute us, and forgiving as the Lord forgives. Instead we handle our troubles by holding grudges, judging others, harboring resentment, hate and anger, and fostering bad attitudes.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had the perfect approach to faith. They remained faithful to what God expected of them, and they trusted Him with the results. God would either deliver them from the fire, or choose not to save them. They yielded to God’s higher purpose, His supreme authority.
Let’s review how they responded to Nebuchadnezzar’s threat to kill them if they continued to refuse to worship his idols. “… the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
They were fully persuaded the Lord was able to deliver them. They even believed He would save them. But even if God didn’t, they still refused to disobey the Lord’s prohibition on worshipping other gods. For Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego it was God’s way no matter what.
Our faith is tested by sickness, unemployment, mistreatment, disagreeable people, financial turmoil, divorce, child custody battles, loss of loved ones, injustice, lawlessness, etc. All of these situations and a lot more test Christian faith.
Here’s the thing and please don’t miss this. Faith has two sides. Of course, there’s the side you’re trusting God to handle; the thing you’re praying for. In faith you believe He is able to grant your request. You also believe without a doubt He will come through for you. But on the other side of faith is your obedience, your faithfulness to His commands and instructions.
Control what you are expected to control. Do what you are expected to do. Forgive when you think you can’t. Love when it seems impossible. Show mercy. Give grace. Don’t bow down to the idols of disobedience.
As you control what you can, then trust God with the rest. And if He chooses not to answer your prayer your way, never falter in your confidence that He is right in all He does. Real faith believes God’s will is more important than our will.
Remember how Jesus prayed in the garden before He went to the cross. “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)
Faith trusts God no matter what, even when it’s under fire.
For more on this topic, check out this article: How to Find Peace in a Chaotic World
Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 3 (July – September) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.