Faith Like Theirs

Written by Brandy Wallis

One of my favorite stories from the Bible is one that involves three amazing Hebrew men who were thrown into a fiery furnace. You guessed it: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! I think I love this story so much because of their shining example of what it means to live out a life of boldness and confidence in spite of terrible circumstances.  

 This story is found in the book of Daniel, primarily in chapter 3. If you’ve never read this story, you really should do yourself a favor and do so. To save us some time today, I’ll just hit some of the high points. King Nebuchadnezzar set up a golden image and commanded that all his officials bow before it. He told everyone that anyone who refused to do so would be thrown into a fiery furnace. Some officials informed the king that there were three young men who were refusing to worship the golden statue. The young men were brought before Nebuchadnezzar and they informed the king that God would be with them. King Nebuchadnezzar was so furious that he demanded they not only be thrown into the furnace but that it be heated seven times hotter than normal! There is no doubt that King Nebuchadnezzar intended to make examples out of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. When the king looked into the fiery furnace, he saw four figures walking unharmed in the flames. The fourth was described as being "like a son of God." Seeing this, Nebuchadnezzar brought the youths out of the flames and guess what? The fire had absolutely no effect on their bodies. The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and there wasn’t even a smell of fire on them!

 Can you imagine being there and witnessing this entire story play out! I bet it was something to behold. A lot of moving pieces with so many lives impacted all in just a few short chapters.

So what does this story really tell us? I’d start off by saying a lot! It reminds us that persecution is real. There are times as believers that we will be asked to do things that we don’t agree with. Do you think that these three Hebrew men were the only believers in the entire kingdom? Absolutely not! However, we are told specifically that these three stood up for what they believed in and refused to give in to the peer pressure around them regardless of what it cost them. In fact, they had already weighed the facts, counted the cost, and made their decision! Daniel 3:16-18 says, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 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.’” I think we can all agree that this was a mountain they were willing to die on. They had boldness and courage to stand up to the one who had the earthly power to end their lives. This didn’t matter because they weren’t living their lives for the ones controlling the earthly kingdom. No, they were living for the heavenly kingdom. They knew they would rather stand up, straight and righteous, before God instead of man.

Another thing we see in this story is that they weren’t shaken by the tribulation they were about to face. We never read where it changed their attitude, their approach, their outlook, or anything else for that matter. I don’t know about you guys, but when I read this, there is an unusual calmness in this story. You would think there would be a big, drawn-out scene where Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego let the entire kingdom know how they felt about this situation, maybe even with a little action thrown in there, but they didn’t. We also don’t see where they went around to their friends crying out oh poor pitiful me. No, they simply maintained their composure, made their position clear, and faced head-on whatever was about to come their way. Trials and tribulations don’t shake our faith but rather they should enhance it!

We know as believers, trials will come our way. It’s not a question of if, but rather a statement of when. James reminds us in James 1:2-4 that, we should, ‘count it all joy when we fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of our faith produces patience. Let patience have its perfect work, that we may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing’.  I don’t know about you, but sometimes I still find it hard to count trials as joy. Oftentimes those moments are heartbreaking, depressing, and make me question so many things in life. We have to reexamine ourselves and figure out what needs to be changed in our heart, mind, and spirit. What I never question, though, is what I’ll learn through the process of the journey. Our pain is never wasted. Let me say that again: our pain is never wasted. The storms in our lives don’t change the joy that we have. After all, without storms, there would be no ashes. Without ashes, how would we be able to recognize the beauty God can make from what seems like disaster? Only God can make something so amazing out of something so terrible.

Lastly–and here is one of my favorite parts of all of this–because of the way King Nebuchadnezzar saw God protect Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, he knew that God was not only real but that there was no other God like him. Check out Daniel 3:28-29: “Then Nebuchadnezzar said, ‘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. Therefore, I make this decree: If any people, whatever their race or nation or language, speak a word against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, they will be torn limb from limb, and their houses will be turned into heaps of rubble. There is no other god who can rescue like this!’”. A situation where a king was considered to be untouchable and an unbeliever turned into one where that same king became humble and repentant. Remember, we can never be in the world but not of the world, when we ourselves are never connected with the world in the first place. How we walk out our faith in situations often speaks way more to people than how we talk about our faith. We can never change people’s hearts and minds by speaking one way and then acting a completely different way.

When the world looks at you, what kind of Christ-like characteristics do they see? Can they tell that you walk closely with God or do you look the same as the world around them?

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