I saw this photo from an account I follow on IG and thought it was fitting. It seems as though in recent days I have been confronted with this message of being refined in suffering.
On Sunday we were praying over another church friend who is going through her own battle and had surgery yesterday for cancer. Our pastor mentioned the story from Daniel of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego .
This morning I spent some time reading those verses again. I had long forgotten one crucial detail of this story. You see I remembered that these 3 men wouldn’t worship the golden idol made by King Nebuchadnezzar and he had ordered them to be thrown into the furnace. I had remembered that they came out of that furnace alive…but I had forgotten that they were not alone in the fire.
16-18 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar, “Your threat means nothing to us. If you throw us in the fire, the God we serve can rescue us from your roaring furnace and anything else you might cook up, O king. But even if he doesn’t, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference, O king. We still wouldn’t serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.”
19-23 Nebuchadnezzar, his face purple with anger, cut off Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace fired up seven times hotter than usual. He ordered some strong men from the army to tie them up, hands and feet, and throw them into the roaring furnace. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, bound hand and foot, fully dressed from head to toe, were pitched into the roaring fire. Because the king was in such a hurry and the furnace was so hot, flames from the furnace killed the men who carried Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to it, while the fire raged around Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
24 Suddenly King Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in alarm and said, “Didn’t we throw three men, bound hand and foot, into the fire?”
“That’s right, O king,” they said.
25 “But look!” he said. “I see four men, walking around freely in the fire, completely unharmed! And the fourth man looks like a son of the gods!”
26 Nebuchadnezzar went to the door of the roaring furnace and called in, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the High God, come out here!”
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego walked out of the fire.
27 All the important people, the government leaders and king’s counselors, gathered around to examine them and discovered that the fire hadn’t so much as touched the three men—not a hair singed, not a scorch mark on their clothes, not even the smell of fire on them!The Message Version
I see four men, walking around freely in the fire. And the fourth looks like a son of the gods.
When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into the fire, they did not find themselves alone. God was with them.
In so many ways this new path we are on seems like our own furnace. And yet, because of God’s grace and mercy we are walking around freely. God has been so so good to us during this time, you have been so so good to us.
This is not the place we want to be, but like I have said multiple times before, it is the place we find ourselves. It is hard for me not to ask God why He chose to refine my character in THIS way. Isn’t there an easier, softer way Lord?
But as we look at how the story in Daniel ends I think we get a glimpse of how we can approach the purpose of our suffering…
28 Nebuchadnezzar said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent his angel and rescued his servants who trusted in him! They ignored the king’s orders and laid their bodies on the line rather than serve or worship any god but their own.
29 “Therefore I issue this decree: Anyone anywhere, of any race, color, or creed, who says anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego will be ripped to pieces, limb from limb, and their houses torn down. There has never been a god who can pull off a rescue like this.”
30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.
In the end even Nebuchadnezzar recognized God’s power in the midst of the fire. In our own trials, if we can put our hope and our trust in God….maybe we have the opportunity to change a life. Maybe one person who didn’t know God in a real way will start to see God in a new way.
I guess that continues to be my prayer. Even if just one Lord….
I miss my son and it will never be ok without him, but if even one person comes to know Jesus in a real way because of this, then I can boldly say that the fire was worth it.