As a kid, I remember attending Sunday School – and hearing all the old Bible stories about people of faith — examples of how to place your trust in God.
One of my favorite stories was of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (Rack, Shack, and Benny for all you VeggieTales fans!).
For those of you who may be unfamiliar – it is the account of how three of God’s people refused to bow down and worship a golden statue, made in the likeness of the Babylonian king. This decision was against the law – and put the three in a position of rebellion to the king (and subject to his judgment). Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego chose to honor their God… and dishonor the king.
Their punishment was to be thrown into a fiery furnace – and burned alive!
Knowing this, these were their final words before the king: “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us… But even if He doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” (from Daniel 3:17-18)
There is a lot in those words. They echo a faith, based upon two essential things…
1) God is always able to save us. No matter what we face (from trivial irritations, to threats of certain death) God always has the ability to help us. He is unlimited in power and strength. “Nothing is impossible with God!” (Luke 1:37) And He is intensely interested in our lives. He knows what we are going through – and He is always able to come to our aid. Even in impossible situations.
2) Our faith must rest in the Person of God – not in what He does for us. The three young men’s words reflect a confidence in God’s supremacy – but also a submission to His sovereignty. They realize that God may decide NOT to come to their aid. And that, in NO way, changes their commitment to Him. God is God – even if He doesn’t do what He is able to do. Our task, as His people, is never to judge God on His actions – but always to rely upon His Character – even in moments where there is the possibility that it might seem that He has failed, or forgotten, us.
True faith goes beyond our circumstances… good or bad. True faith recognizes that God is the same God in our victories as He is, in our “losses.”
Hebrews 11 (the “hall of faith” chapter) is centered on one point. God loves faith, in us. He is most honored when we trust Him. And He is most glorified by those who trust Him – even though they may not receive what they are trusting for Him to do.
These are issues that can only be settled before we “face the fire.” We have to rest in our commitment to a relationship with God, before we ever face those situations that require us to have to trust Him.
For Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, their trust in God was a done deal… Before they ever had to disobey a king’s order. It could have cost them everything – but instead it opened the doorway for a miracle.
Faith, eventually, puts us all in that place…
Prayer focus: God, help me to settle the issue of Your faithfulness to me – to trust in YOU in whatever comes my way.