In my previous post, I looked at three young men whose faith was definitely put to the test. Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego (AKA – Rack, Shack, and Benny) were faced with a life-or-death decision:
Do they go with the flow of popular culture and blend in with the crowd?
Or do they stand up for their convictions and face the real threat of death?
Spoiler Alert: They chose the latter – to stand tall in the face of fear and put their faith under fire (literally!).
Is it getting hot in here?
Do you feel like the heat is on?
Like you’re in a pressure cooker and the steam is about to blow?
Is your faith being tested?
This story from Daniel shows us THREE WAYS WE CAN WALK THROUGH THE FIRES OF LIFE AND NOT GET BURNED.
Walk with friends through the fire
Rack, Shack, and Benny developed a close community of like-minded faithful friends. It would be hard to overstate the importance of their relationship with each other.
- Together they resisted the lure to forsake God’s laws for “palace pleasures.”
- Together they took a stand for what they believed in.
- Together they faced the consequences of their actions.
Perhaps they were familiar with this wisdom from Solomon:
Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
Who are your friends? Are they doing battle with you or against you?
Do they help hold you up or drag you down?
Do they draw you closer to God or drive you further away?
If you want to walk through the fire, you’re going to need friends who can help keep you from getting burned.
Walk with faith through the fire
When the three friends were given one more chance to escape the threat of death, they responded:
“O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”Daniel 3:16-18
The commands of God trump the expectations of people every time.
As you go through life, people are going to place expectations on you, and if you are always bowing to the expectations of others because you are afraid of what they might think, you’re going to get burned.
Long before the fire was ever burning, Rack, Shack, and Benny already had a plan. What was their plan?
Believe God no matter what.
That’s it. There was no Plan B.
Maybe you’ve put your faith in God and feel like He let you down (*hand raised*).
Where was God when my marriage was falling apart?
Where was God when I lost my job?
Where is God in this pandemic?
Where is God when I’m fighting the fires of fear, anxiety, and depression?
I believed God to save my marriage, to find me a job, to heal my hurts and free me from my harmful habits… and I still ended up divorced, in the unemployment line, struggling with my pain and addiction.
What good is faith?
Faith is not based on what God will do, but WHO GOD IS.
Notice their faith: “God is able to save… but even if he doesn’t…”
We can have faith in God’s ability even if we don’t understand His (in)actions.
God is able to save your marriage, but even if He doesn’t…
God is able to save your job, but even if He doesn’t…
God is able to rescue you from your hurts, habits, and hang-ups, but even if He doesn’t…
God is able to keep you safe in the midst of a pandemic, but even if He doesn’t…
Will you still serve Him, worship Him, and believe in Him because of who He is?
God is strong and mighty to save, but even if He doesn’t rescue me from this particular fire, will I still believe that He is still strong and mighty to save because He is the One True God?
If your faith is dependent on God’s answering your every beckon call, it will fail.
If your faith is dependent on God’s character, it will withstand the fire.
Walk without fear through the fire
When the three friends trusted God no matter what, the most unlikely and improbable thing happened.
But suddenly, Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in amazement and exclaimed to his advisers, “Didn’t we tie up three men and throw them into the furnace?” “Yes, Your Majesty, we certainly did,” they replied. “Look!” Nebuchadnezzar shouted. “I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire unharmed! And the fourth looks like a god!”Daniel 3:24-25
Rack, Shack, and Benny stuck together and faced the fiery furnace as friends. They had faith in God that was not based on their rescue, but on God’s ability to redeem every situation. And now when the heat is cranked up (7x higher!), God shows up.
Now, truthfully, it wasn’t like God just showed up like some magic trick. God was always there, always present, even (especially) in the fiery furnace. It’s just that now He allowed King Nezzy to see His power.
These are Jesus’ last recorded words:
“Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”Matthew 28:20
Jesus didn’t just appear 2,000 years ago. He was born as a baby, but he’s always existed. He was there in the fiery furnace. Jesus didn’t go M.I.A. 2,000 years ago. He’s right here, right now.
You can walk without fear through the fires of life because God is with you. Always.
You may be going through some tough stuff right now, but
You can face it without fear because GOD IS NEAR.
You may feel like you can’t handle the deck you’re being dealt, but you can face it without fear because God is near.
You may want to run, hide, or curl up in the fetal position, but whatever fire you’re facing, you can walk through it without fear because God is near.
Jesus promises that he will be with us always, even in the “fiery furnaces” of life.
We never know when things are going to blow up
Years ago when a friend and I were driving home from a conference in Nashville, we noticed the car ahead of us starting to smoke. They pulled over and we pulled over behind them to see if we could help. When the guy opened the hood, there was a small fire in the engine. I ran back to my car to get my “Big Gulp” to pour on it, but in the seconds I was gone, the fire had quickly spread and my “Big Gulp didn’t stand a chance.
Within moments the entire car was engulfed in flames. Fortunately, nobody was hurt. Unfortunately, this guy was moving home from college and he had all of his personal possessions in that car. It was unbelievable. I’ve never seen anything like that – from smoke to completely gone within 5 minutes.
We never know when the heat may get turned up and we’ll have to face the fire. You could be just minding your own business returning home from college like or going about your daily routine like Rack, Shack, and Benny, when all of a sudden, “BOOM!” Everything blows up.
After Nezzy saw the friends walking with Jesus in the fire, he says this:
“Praise to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent his angel to rescue his servants who trusted in him. They defied the king’s command and were willing to die rather than serve or worship any god except their own God… There is no other god who can rescue like this!” Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to even higher positions in the province of Babylon.Daniel 3:28, 29b-30
Rack, Shack, and Benny had no idea they were going to face the fire that day. But when the heat suddenly got turned up, they faced it with friendship, faith, and fearlessness. God demonstrated His power through their response and displayed His glory for all to see!
The world is watching how you respond to this pandemic; how you respond to losing your job or losing a loved one; losing your business or losing your church. They want to know: Is your faith one that can be trusted?
True faith is tested faith.
It is not dependent on what God does, but who God is.
The God who rescued Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from the fiery furnace can certainly rescue you.
But even if He doesn’t…