Nebuchadnezzar, the powerful Babylonian king, was famously portrayed in the Bible’s book of Daniel (chapter 3) as the cruel tyrant who insisted people worship his image. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were then thrown into a furnace for failing to obey his command. What is especially interesting is that he had, just one chapter before, given the same men command of his empire. This was in acknowledgment of their friend, Daniel, giving God’s interpretation of his dreams. It seems that many people are also kings of their own world in which they give mental assent to God when they see His work, but have hearts filled with pride and self-interest that interferes with genuine allegiance.
In contrast, the three young men facing a ‘fiery’ trial, showed the three important keys that people of faith use to face tough times. These keys offer a balance between realism and trust which can characterise those who don’t just have a fickle faith of the head, but a firm faith of the heart.
1. The peace of God. What a great balance: ‘our God can save us, but even if He does not…’ Complete trust can sometimes take us to the point of death, never denying reality, letting God be God (since we are not!), and yet hanging on to a belief that God can come through for us when we hold on to His promises in quiet confidence.
2. The presence of God. The ‘fourth man’ in the furnace who looked like the ‘son of God’ was, at the very least, a representative of God who manifests Himself in the fires of life to those who walk with Him consistently.
3. The protection of God. We may feel battered and bruised, but we are ultimately not defeated. The story says that they came out unburnt, unsinged and without even the smell of smoke. So too with us, life’s trials need not scar us for life as God brings us through when we trust Him.