Trusting God in the Fiery Furnace

Affliction. Despair. Pain. Loss. Anxiety. Betrayal. Hurt. All these conjure up a whirlpool of emotions and reactions. Most of us have probably experienced some or all of these and maybe a combination of these at some point in our life. How do we move forward while in the midst of these is the question? We may even question if God is even aware of our suffering? Does he hear us when we cry out to him? Why does he allow things in our life to go in a way that causes such emotional upheaval? For an answer let’s look together at Daniel 3.

The Babylonian king has erected a statue and has sent out an order that when an orchestra of musical instruments are sounded everyone was to bow down and worship this statue. You must remember that the Babylonian empire was a very diverse and pluralistic conglomeration of religions. For most this would not have been a difficult order to follow. But there were three young men who were faced with a resolute, yet potentially life threatening decision.

                It was reported back to the king that these three young men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, were not showing the proper respect and were not bowing down to worship this statue. These young men were in high positions of administrating the province of Babylon. Their disrespect did not come without a high price to be paid. The king replied to these young men: ‘If you don’t pay homage to it (statue), you will immediately be thrown into the midst of the furnace of blazing fire. Now, who is that god who can rescue you from my power’ (Dan. 3:15)? This verse shows us not only the resolve of the young men but the arrogance of the king.

                These young men were faced with a decision that many of us are faced with each day. Our country is becoming more religiously pluralistic. The cultural pressure we feel is to conform our faith and practices to those belief systems around us. These young men could have taken the ‘easy’ way out and just simply bowed and it was a done deal. Instead, they would not yield. I like their response in verse 20, ‘We do not need to give you a reply concerning this.’ There may be times that in the face of an argument over our faith the simply yet uncompromising thing is to realize we do not owe the world a response over why we believe like we do. Yet the three young men did give a simple, uncompromising reply, ‘

If our God whom we are serving exists, he is able to rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and he will rescue us, O king, from your power as well. But if not 

, let it be known to you, O king, that we don’t serve your gods, and we will not pay homage to the golden statue that you have erected’ (vv. 16-18).
                Timothy Keller in his book entitled 
Walking with God through Pain and Suffering 
states, ‘The answer is that their confidence was actually in God, not in their limited understanding of what they thought he would do…God was under no obligation to operate according to their limited wisdom’ (pp. 230-231). We generally pray with the attitude that God is required to answer our prayer. We must be careful that when we pray, we do not do so with our agenda in mind but with the mindset of trusting in God’s plan. These young men knew that God would deliver them from death or through death. Either way it was a win-win for them. For God, would receive the honor and glory of the victory for their faithfulness.

                Until we are tested we really do not know who we are. The only way we can really begin to trust God is when we are in the midst of trials. Keller states: ‘He walks with us, but the real question is – will we walk with him’ (p. 234). Suffering can do one of two things: it can bring us closer to God or it can repel us and cause us to become calloused. ‘It means we must treat God as God and as there’ (Keller, p. 235). We must understand him as sovereign and as the one who walks alongside us.

                Our Christian life is depicted as a walk with God. In Genesis 17:1 we learn, ‘When Abram was 99 years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am the sovereign God. 
Walk 
before me and be blameless.’ Walk simply means to live out your life. “We are called to walk, to grieve and weep, to trust and pray, to think, thank, and love, and to hope’ (Keller, p. 237).
 
*All scripture references are from The NET Bible. For electronic access to The NET Bible and the 60,932 translators’ note see 
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