It would do us all a lot of good to remember that the classic Bible stories many of us heard as children are not fairy tales. A boy really did face an actual giant and defeated him with a stone to the head. God really did demonstrate grace through a man named Noah who looked like a lunatic while he spent decades building an ark. And Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego actually stood up to a king – a real, arrogant, and powerful emperor whose hurt pride and temper sentenced them to a fiery furnace.
Has someone ever sentenced you to a fiery furnace? Is there an enemy far more influential than you know how to handle threatening to destroy life as you know it?
If those three Jewish boys were here today they’d likely sit down with you and empathize.
“We’ve been there,” they’d say, “And by God’s grace, we survived the fire.”
The literal fire. Let’s take a second and acknowledge that, shall we?
There are times in all of our lives when we feel the heat from whatever furnace we currently feel trapped inside, and it’s unbearable. To make it more intense, those of us who are believers sense that added pressure in knowing that we are being observed while we endure the flames. Our enemies watch on with an air of satisfaction while those who care for us stand by attempting to make things more bearable with their water buckets of encouragement.
Some fires can be doused by those precious buckets, but others are furnace fires enclosed by bricks that shield the flames from being quenched by anything but divine intervention.
And that’s when we must do just what those three young men were forced to do when they found themselves in the furnace. They just sat there, helpless and surrendered to God’s plan for their life’s situation.
Their enemy had one plan when he had them discarded into the flames, but God had a greater plan.
Do you find yourself in a furnace in recent days? Take heart, remember that others have gone before you in the flames, and they weren’t incinerated. In fact, God used the very things Satan intended to cause ruin to bring good.
Satan intends to destroy us in the furnaces we face in our lives, but God chooses to use the furnace to refine us.
Less of us. More of Him.
Purging the baggage that brings us pain and draws our attention off of Him and His plan and requiring us to give Him our all.
Furnaces make us forget about all other distractions. As much as they hurt, we need them in our lives to remind our forgetful hearts that we are not the ones in control and that our ways are not the best ways.
Take a minute and relate with those whose stories God chose to include in the Bible. They’re there to encourage us in our own lives. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were undoubtedly refined through their fiery furnace encounter – not because they were super human, but because they made the choice we all can make to trust God in the hard times, and He is worth trusting. Always!