Trials are a big part of the Christian life. All throughout the Bible, you can read about different men and women being tested in a variety of different ways. God uses these tests for an assortment of reasons. Sometimes he just wants to strengthen you for a future trial. Other times he wants to see what he can trust you with, but more often than not he wants to use that trial to show you what he is capable of!
Here in Daniel chapter 3, we see the story of the three Hebrew children. King Nebuchadnezzar made a decree for everyone to bow down to a golden statue when the sound of instruments was heard. As expected, when the instruments were played, people from all over were bowing down to the golden statue. Not only the pagans that were born and raised in that environment, but also all the Jews that grew up in a country that worshipped God. They knew better yet they still bowed just like the rest of the crowd.
Across the sea of bowing heads, there stood three Hebrews.
“There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” (Daniel:3:12)
They were in a strange land, surrounded by pagans… but they decided to make a stand for God! Making a stand for God is a good thing but it tends to come with a price. In this particular situation, King Nebuchadnezzar had said that whoever doesn’t bow before the statue would be thrown into the furnace!
Sometimes, the people that stand the most for God will experience the hardest trials. As these three Hebrews were brought to the furnace, I am sure they were all praying to God asking for deliverance from the flames. I can only imagine that their hope probably got lower with every step they took. As they began to feel the heat from the furnace, their prayers most likely got louder and more urgent. There was a big trial ahead of them and it didn’t look like God was doing anything about it.
The flames were so intense that the guards escorting them died upon throwing them into the fire. At this point, all seemed lost… but then something unexpected happened! As they hit the floor of the furnace, they began to realize that the fire had no affect on them! They didn’t feel the heat and pain as expected. Eventually, they realized they weren’t alone…
“He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.” (Daniel:3:25)
In the midst of a terrible situation, there stood Jesus by their side! You see? They were praying to God, asking for deliverance from their trial, but they didn’t realize what God’s plan was. They ended up in the fire (last place they wanted to be) but with Jesus by their side, they made it through untouched! They didn’t even have the smell of smoke on their clothes! They had an idea how to avoid the furnace but God’s plan gave him all the glory!
As Christians, we serve a God who delivers! He doesn’t work on our time, he works on His time! We need to realize that as Christians we will suffer persecution and go through trials… but our God Delivers!