And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28 NKJV)
And we know.
Do we though? Like for SURE?
Belief is black and white. Either we do, or we don’t. I often try to tell myself this isn’t the case, because it scares me to admit that it is. I say I believe, yet my actions would suggest otherwise. Like when I insist that I believe and trust God, yet only give 10% when my calculations suggest that I can “afford it.” This behavior doesn’t even give God a chance to show up for me.
If God doesn’t have an opportunity to display His power, what difference is there between my life and someone who doesn’t know God?
In the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego the stakes were way higher than 10% of their income; in their case it was a matter of life and death. My stakes are usually paying a bill on time or not. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego went against the king’s rulings multiple times, first with their diet, then again with their refusal to worship his idols. Isn’t it funny how there are always haters just waiting to throw us under the bus when we disagree? Their situation was no different. After being tattled-on for not worshiping the false gods, King Nebuchadnezzar commanded Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego to submit or be immediately thrown into a fiery furnace.
I am honestly not sure how solid I would be in this situation. I can imagine my internal-reasoning kicking in…
Well, see if I just humor the king and do what he says he’ll let me live and then I can tell more people about God – I mean what good am I if I’m dead? I’m sure God will understand…
That’s not how I want to respond, but I’ve never been threatened with being burned alive and if I have a hard time believing God can pay my bills, I’m not sure what my mind would be thinking when faced with this kind of situation.
Oh, to have such confidence…
I admire the three men for being so strong in their faith! This level of trust must come when you have a real, active relationship with God. They knew God would show up for them because they had given Him the chance to do so multiple times before. Nebuchadnezzar mocks them asking “And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?” (Daniel 3:15)
Sometimes no explanation is necessary.
God will show the truth. The passage continues,
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18)
Wow. Can you imagine telling the king who just threatened to burn you alive that you don’t need to answer his question?! In addition to their faith in God delivering them, they added that even if He doesn’t, they want to be clear that they will never worship the gold image the king had set up. Lord, may I have the boldness in my faith as these three did!
The text says that the expression on Nebuchadnezzar’s face changed as he became enraged. There are moments in life that present the opportunity for light to shine through us or darkness to take over. Nebuchadnezzar’s pride and arrogance took over in this moment and he commanded the furnace to be heated 7 times hotter than usual (I love this because 7 is God’s number… God showed Himself even in the command coming from the king’s mouth.) Nebuchadnezzar is human just like us. As governors of our mind, I am reminded that it is a conscious decision to allow our actions to come from the Spirit of Love, or darkness. The most dangerous people are those who believe they could never be dangerous…
The ripple effect of hatred
Upon Nebuchadnezzar’s angry command, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego were tied-up fully-clothed, and carried by Nebuchadnezzar’s men and thrown into the raging fire. The flames were so hot, the men carrying the three to the fire were killed immediately. The fury of Nebuchadnezzar’s darkness led to the death of his own men. The ripple of hatred is fierce; innocent bystanders are often injured in the process.
“Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished; and he rose in haste and spoke, saying to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?”
They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.”
“Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”
God joins us in the fire every time!
When God shows up, not only are we alive, but we are released from whatever binds us. Even in the fire, we walk freely. I wonder what they talked about while they were walking around in the fire. I imagine complete awe took over the three as the Son of God HIMSELF joined them in the fire. Even before Jesus would walk the earth, He was showing up for His people. Hallelujah.
What love is this? Hosanna to the King!
Nebuchadnezzar knew immediately the fourth person in the fire was the Son of God. How did he know?! How would anyone know what the Son of God looked like? Divine knowledge shows up when God does. Within moments, the king that just ordered their death is calling Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego out of the fire, as every royal official gathered around witnessing the power of the Most High God. The holding of their ground led to the immediate realization, identification, and respect of the One Living God. This moment of faith led to the protection of everyone in the kingdom who believed in God, as well as the promotion of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. Faith and trust carries with it a ripple effect as well.
Sidebar: Can you imagine seeing the king a week later? “Oh hey, King! About last week – you know, when you threw me in the furnace to die a most-miserable death – yeah, no problem – no hard-feelings! How can I serve you?”
How many times has an opportunity to reveal the Living God presented itself, but our lack of faith prevented its happening? Our faith invites God to show up, and His presence will confirm His Divine Identity; it will be undeniable who the King is.
Give it a-go! Make a decision to trust God in the area of your life that stresses you out the most. Finances tend to be a good one for many of us. If that’s the case for you, budget to give 10% regardless. (This of course means you are following a budget and not frivolously spending your entire paycheck and then expecting God to show up for your rent.) God knows our hearts and our intentions, so set them accordingly and find an accountability partner to help you stick to your budget (and your faith!) When your mind starts to panic because it can’t see how it’s going to work out, remind yourself, I serve the God that created the UNIVERSE. The same God that raised Christ from the dead loves me and delights in partnering with me. I’m pretty sure God can figure out how to pay this bill.
If we can’t trust in Him to show up for the small stuff, how will we be willing to go into the fire when it really counts? Increase your faith-strength and as you “risk” trusting God more, you’ll find that it’s so much better when He’s in control anyway!
Our Father in Heaven, you are so GOOD. We are in awe of the way you show up for us. God, we pray that your Kingdom would come in our lives, for we know that we have everything we need in the Kingdom. Thank you God that you already have everything we could need handled. We ask that you would give us the peace that surpasses understanding. Holy Spirit we invite you in today to partner with us, strengthening us in faith. We not only believe in You, we believe You. Hallelujah to the Most High God.
But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. James 1:6 NLT