One of my jobs in the steel mill was operating a larry car on railroad tracks that carried a ladle filled with molten pig iron. A huge overhead crane would grab the ladle and pour its content into an open-hearth furnace. While this was going on, I would often sit on a bench and peer into a nearby furnace.
The Defiant Three
I would think about three biblical characters who roamed around in a furnace, and who survived the experience according to Daniel 3, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These were the three Hebrew men in the Book of Daniel who were thrown into a fiery furnace by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon.
They refused to bow down to the king's image. A fourth figure joined them as they were preserved from harm. The king saw four men walking in the flames and said, “the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”
God is at our side in our personal fiery furnaces.
Thinking back on my thoughts at that time, the passage in the Daniel story that most fascinates me today is what they said in response to the king. These three Hebrew men stood up to the king and gave him a big spiritual “whatever.” Whatever the king was about to do to them, they stood firm on their confidence in the God who would do what he promises to do.
A Demonstration of Absolute Reliance
This was not a mere shrugging of the shoulders by a young teenager telling his mom or dad “whatever.” This was a powerful demonstration of absolute reliance on what the scriptures say about God’s supreme power, and how he can deliver us from the fiery furnace of our own everyday problems and challenges.
This is a wonderful example of reliance on God’s power. But I wonder how the three Hebrews really felt as they walked into Nebuchadnezzar's furnace. I imagine that like you and I would have reacted, they experienced moments of hesitation, doubt, or even terror. After all, like us, they were human, despite their great faith in God.
Lessons We Should Learn
We should all take heart that like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, we can face whatever life and Satan brings our way with the assurance that God will be at our side in our personal fiery furnaces, even when we have less than perfect faith.
In conclusion. it is in pressing on, that we show our faith and God is glorified. And unlike these three Hebrews who defied an evil king, we have Jesus Christ, to not only stand at our side in our times of trouble, but to be in us, strengthening us. This should give us a great sense of freedom, a spiritual “whatever” attitude.
Listen to God's Words
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. (Isaiah 43:2)
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
Also read: Deuteronomy 31:10, Psalm 46:1-2, Daniel 3:15-18
In the Words of Others
“God doesn’t call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will still be in trouble even if He doesn’t come through.” Francis Chan
“Our heavenly Father understands our disappointment, suffering, pain, fear, and doubt. He is always there to encourage our hearts and help us understand that He's sufficient for all of our needs. When I accepted this as an absolute truth in my life, I found that my worrying stopped.” Charles Stanley
Think About It
Can you recall a time in your life when it seemed like God was your only hope? If yes, describe how you felt at the time.
Recall a time when you should have sought God’s help, but turned elsewhere and regretted it, finally turning to God for support. What were you thinking at the time?
Describe the kind of personal faith in God you have. Is it the kind of faith you place in God regardless of the outcome? Or is it the kind of faith that relies on favorable outcomes?
Visit the scriptures and identify other characters who demonstrated spiritual “whatever” faith in their Lord and God, after leaving their fate in his hands. Visit Genesis 50:20, Ruth 1:16-18, 2 Kings 1:15.