I’ve always loved an exciting children’s Bible story and, growing up, I always got into the story of Shadrach, Meshack and Abendago in the fiery furnace. These three men were leaders, appointed by the king to oversee an entire region, and were well-respected upstanding citizens. They also faithfully followed God. They hadn’t done anything wrong or deserving of punishment. However, King Nebucckunezzer was an evil king with a serious pride problem. He built a huge 90 ft statue and demanded that everyone worship his idol or face the consequence of death. The three friends stood firm in their convictions to not bow down to any god but the One True God. They told the king that they didn’t need to defend themselves against him because, “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. 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.” (Daniel 3:17-18)
The enraged king had them tightly bound up and thrown down into the fiery furnace that was so hot, that the soldiers accompanying them were burnt up. This is where the story gets really good. The king sees something supernatural and implausible happen: where there were only 3 guys tied up and thrown down, there are now 4 walking freely around in the furnace. He calls them out and finds them unharmed: the only things that burned up were the ropes that bound them.
There are times in life when we will face a full front attack by the enemy from no fault of ours. These men lived a righteous life, but they still faced this perilous trial. Their situation brought them to a crisis of belief, choosing between life or their faith- do we choose to remain faithful in our convictions in a time of testing or compromise for comfort/convenience/safety/job security/pleasing others/etc.? They stood firm facing death. They acknowledged that God held power to save but even if He chose not to save them, they’d never bend in their faith no matter the cost. They accepted the consequences of following God and were thrown into the fire.
The Bible tells us that as a Christian we are going to face trials. Even when these three men stood firm in their faith and proclaimed allegiance to their God, they were not saved from going into the fire and were even “tied up” and “thrown down” into it. In the same way, we will find ourselves in the fires of hardship at times: problems with finances, our marriage, struggling with depression, work situations, friendships, health or loss of a loved one. But here’s the thing: Jesus went into the fire with them, and He will walk through your fire with you too. He promises to never leave us. If they hadn’t gone into the fire, they would’ve missed out on experiencing His tangible comfort, peace and even physical presence with them. We have to go into the fire to get the blessing! And the result is a more intimate knowledge of who God is for us personally- as a comforter, savior, helper, friend, giver of peace, miracle-worker, provider, and the list goes on. In the challenge of adversity, our faith has the potential to increase exponentially as we see Him working in our situation in an intimate way we would otherwise not get to experience Him.
When they came out of the fire, they were unharmed and only the ropes that had once bound them were burned. They were tied up, but the ropes were removed by the fire. God can use our problems and suffering to bring freedom to us from whatever is oppressing us: doubt, control, a recurrent sin, fear, perfectionism, legalism, pride, whatever it is that the enemy has tried to capture us with. No chain from the enemy has the power to hold us if God wants us free.
Have you ever gone through a trial or suffering that brought you to a critical point in your faith where you had to decide between letting go of your faith or to stand firm? I faced this situation not very long ago when I suffered a miscarriage at almost 12 weeks pregnant. I was following the Lord, loving Him and just smooth-sailing through life when all of of sudden everything seemed to crash down. I questioned how God could let this happen, why He would want this for me if He supposedly had good plans and loved me? The enemy tried to use the situation to convince me my God did not love me, had bad plans and was not trustworthy. I realized I was at a crossroads: I either believed or I didn’t, but I couldn’t do both. I chose to replace the lies I was tempted to believe with truths from God’s Word: that He is always faithful, He has good plans, He loves me and His ways are higher than mine. By going through that trying time, my faith grew in ways it never would have otherwise. He delivered me from the chains of fear and control that I was wearing and set me free to trust Him more fully with my life and future.
We sometimes have to enter the fire, but He always goes with us. Instead of questioning why you have to be in the circumstances you are, look around for the Lord, because He’s standing right there in the middle of it. He promises to walk you through it and the very things intended to harm you are the things that He can use for your good. Your biggest God moments in life may come in the fire.