Usually, when I think of fire, I think of a cozy evening by the warmth of a hearth. Or when my family goes camping and we light a campfire to roast marshmallows and spend time together. Better yet, the nights I've spent with my husband and daughter out in our backyard by the firepit.
My first thought does not go to disaster.
However, I recently read a story in the old testament about three friends who were truly refined by fire. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow down and worship a golden idol created by King Nebuchadnezzar. It was proclaimed that anyone who refused to worship the idol would be cast into a "burning fiery furnace". They knew the consequence for their actions. But they also knew something more important.
They knew God.
You can read their story in Daniel 3, but I'm going to focus on something that has challenged me: verse 17-18. These 3 young men stood before the king who had the power to deliver them to their deaths, by fire no less, and answered the king's challenge so eloquently. The king sort of mocked them by saying (paraphrased) "I'm throwing you into the fire, and what god could possibly save you from my hands?"
The three of them stood firm in the face of certain death and confidently told the king that the one true God they serve is more than able to deliver them from the fire and from his hands, that God would rescue them. But what they said next is what has stayed with me.
"But even if He does 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.
Even though they knew God was able to do all things, including saving them from the fire, they fully accepted and trusted that God would do what was best, even if it meant their death. And they were still willing to worship God, even if He did not come to their rescue. Even if He chose not to save them.
They knew God.
Because they knew and loved God, they were willing to go to the ends of the earth to worship Him and Him alone. They accepted whatever God's plan for them was, and moved forward in that. Even if it meant being shamed by a king. Even if it meant excruciating pain. Even if it meant death.
So many times in life, we whine about this circumstance or what happened. We cry out to God "Why, why, why??" We are disappointed that God did not answer our prayers, or deliver us from a situation. How many times has this caused someone to lose faith and trust in God? Lost faith because God didn't do what they wanted Him to, or because they could not understand why God did something.
Not Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They knew God.
When we know God, and I mean truly know Him, nothing in life can shake our faith. And don't get me wrong, it's okay to ask questions. It's okay to be honest with God and tell Him you are angry and upset. That is a biblical example set by David in the Psalms. However, after David shared his honest feelings and opinions with God, he always came back and praised God for who He is.
God does not change. He is the beginning and the end. He is the creator of all things. He is the master planner who charted a course for our salvation from the beginning of time. He is the one who resides in the heart of a believer and sits with you when you are hurting and confused. He never leaves you. He is with us always, even to the end of the age (Matt 28).
We as believers in Christ should be willing to stand firm in our faith no matter what comes. Even if we are standing in the face of the fire.
We must be faithful and be willing to respond to anything life throws at us with the same response as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did.
But even if He does not, I will still worship Him and Him alone.