One of my favorite topics to read in the scriptures or in any literature for that matter is faith. Faith has always fascinated me and trying to understand how to build my own faith has led me to discover so many personal gospel gems that has truly strengthen my testimony over the years.
One of the greatest stories of how faith was truly tested and demonstrated was that of Abed-nego, Meshach and Shadrach (sounds incredibly awkward when you don’t put their names in the traditional order huh?). We all know the story. Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego were told to bow down and worship a golden image set up by the king. That king’s name was Nebuchadnezzar and told them that if they did not bow down, they would be cast into a burning fiery furnace.
Their response was nothing short of epic and in my mind one of the greatest demonstration of true discipleship in the Bible. Their response showed that they understood the principle of faith and understood that their faith rested in Christ and not in some arbitrary outcome that they had hoped to see.
In Daniel 3:17-18
“If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”
How awesome is that! They understood that Christ could deliver them out of the King’s hands but if not, if their God chose not to save their lives, if their God allowed them to die at the King’s hands, their faith would be unshaken because that outcome (whether they lived or died) did not change the fact that God was God and that they would continue to worship Him regardless.
How often is our faith shaken when we don’t see a particular outcome in our lives? How often is our faith shaken when what we have been so desperately praying for doesn’t come to pass? Where we prayed so hard for something that we desperately wanted or needed and for reasons unknown to us never came to fruition?
I know that I’ve done this countless of times and still find myself in these situations. The three key words from their response above are “but if not.” We know that Christ can do (fill in the blank) but if not, our faith in Him will not diminish. I don’t know how you can demonstrate faith any more powerfully than they did at that moment. Their response demonstrated that they understood the power that Christ had and what He was capable of doing for them. However, if He chose not to intercede, if He chose not to save their lives, they would have not believed in Him any less.
Regardless of the outcomes in our lives, our faith needs to be placed in the idea that regardless of what happens, regardless of how God chooses to bless our lives or not, we will still have faith in Christ because He is real. Regardless of whether we receive a particular blessing, we still understand that Christ is still our Savior. We understand that He loves us and that ultimately, He has a plan for all of us.
As Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego had demonstrated before and as countless of saints still do today, we need to base our faith in Christ and not in particular outcomes. We need to have faith in Christ Himself and in His atoning sacrifice. They knew that God lived and that He could save them from the fiery furnace that laid before them but had He chosen to let them die, they would have easily accepted that outcome as well.
We all face our own fiery furnaces in life. In the case of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, He chose to save them from it. In other cases He has allowed individuals to go through the fiery furnace of losing a close family member, dealing with difficult health situations or raising children by themselves. Regardless of the outcomes that transpire, we need to hold to that faith that is so critically important not only to our spiritual well-being but to our physical well-being as well.
I hope that when we are facing the fiery furnace, we can stand forth and say “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand… But if not”, we will still stand tall in the face of adversity. We will still look forward with faith knowing that we will not coward down, we will not give in and that we will not “serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” We will still be faithful as we know the true God whom we serve.
We should take courage from their amazing example and exemplary faith so that when we face our own personal fiery furnace, we too will come forth polished as gold.