Do you know the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? They are the three young Jews, captives of Babylon, away from home, serving a godless, tyrannical King Nebuchadnezzar. This story I reference is completely told in Daniel chapter 3.
King Nebuchadnezzar gets this brilliant idea to make a huge golden image of himself, with the express purpose of having people within his kingdom worship him. Sounds like he’d fit in today’s culture, eh? So the King gets everyone together and wants to dedicate his golden self-image and kind of christen it with all the kingdom leaders worshiping it. The idea was that when the music started everyone was going to bow down and pay homage to the King. As a little motivation, the King issued this decree:
Whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire.
So, what happened? Well, when the music starts, people from everywhere fell to the ground and worshiped the golden image that he set up.
Except three guys. Yes, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. This is where the story gets interesting!
Three guys get reported to the King as having failed to fall and worship his image. The King angrily summons them and gives them a second chance. They don’t even hesitate to answer. They don’t need any more time to reconsider. This is what they said:
O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if he does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.
Well, you can imagine the response. The King was really ticked and so he has them thrown into the fire. Long story short: they not only survive, they survive with no harm done and they get to meet Jesus in the flames. Read the entire story – it’s an amazing tale.
But what I want to focus on is their conversation, pre-blaze, that they had with King Nebuchadnezzar.
They were facing an impossible situation. They had reason to doubt and even fear. But their answer to the King was: God can, God will and even if God doesn’t…
That got me to thinking about a tough situation I’m in, and I know others are in: dealing with Chronic Pain. Does my theology drive my reaction to impossible situations. Yesterday I blogged my frustrations. Today I’m trying to temper it with my beliefs.
God can remove my pain, there is no doubt in my mind. Just reading in our text for our Sunday services (the Gospel of Mark), and I see over and again that Jesus Christ is bigger than any physical impediment. A little back pain and nerve pain isn’t even going to slow him down. He can change my circumstances right now if he desired.
This is one I struggle with. I don’t like to pray for healing for myself. I think it’s selfish. I know – it’s weird. I would counsel others to pray for healing for themselves, but somewhere along the line I started thinking wrongly about how I, personally, pray for healing for myself. Do I really believe that God will heal me? (You don’t expect me to answer that on the internet do you?) This is the greatest challenge of my thoughts on these words. Am I going to let my faith go there?
Even if God doesn’t
I’m a little more comfortable here than God will. I absolutely believe God can change the suffering in my life and the lives of others. And I am perfectly willing to accept the situation even if God doesn’t. In his plan and purpose for my life, God will do what is necessary for him to receive glory. If it means I hobble and cringe and break down from time to time, so be it. If it means that this condition gets worse, so be it. If the meds never cover the stabbing, burning, gripping pain – so be it. Bring on God’s glory, because that’s what I want.
Meeting Jesus in the fire
I don’t want to spiritualize the passage. I do think, however, that we grow closer to Jesus the hotter the furnace. What I mean is, what do you embrace when faced with an impossible situation? You can’t hold onto your physical strength – that will surely fail. You can’t embrace your cunning and crafty personality – that will let you down. You can’t expect others to bail you out of something no-one but God has control over – it just won’t happen.
So hang on to the one who created the fire.
Jesus is greater than anything you have faced, or will ever face. He’s bigger than my Chronic Pain. He’s bigger than your destroyed relationships. He’s bigger than the turmoil and grief of your child running from God. He’s bigger than your crimes and distress. He’s bigger than that job loss, death, conflict, grief, or whatever you’re facing.
God can, God will, & even if God doesn’t…
Worship him. Hold onto him. Allow the furnace of affliction to drive you closer to Jesus and as a result bring him greater glory.