During the hot summer months, chocolate, gum, and lip balm do no fair too well. The heat does a good job to melt the items. Being a Hershey girl, I love chocolate. When you purchase chocolate at a store, by the time you carry it from the store to your car, the chocolate is already melting from the high temperatures. I always advise my kids to not open it, but instead to put it in the refrigerator so it can harden again. When the chocolate is eventually opened, it is interesting to see the new form of the chocolate.
Heat is often affiliated with changing the shapes of items so it’s no surprise to read about heat in the Bible. We read and the refiner’s fire and the furnace of affliction. We also read about taking a new form. When we accept Christ, we start to become a new creation.
There are times when we can feel the heat of the furnace of affliction. We are being pruned and built up. We are being challenged. We are being tested like gold. We find ourselves in these situations because we are called to be a holy people and little by little God gets us to where He created us to be as His child with a purpose. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4 NIV)
“I will bring that group through the fire and make them pure. I will refine them like silver and purify them like gold. They will call on my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘These are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The LORD is our God.'” – Zechariah 13:9 [NLT]
“As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.” – Daniel 3:5-6 [NIV]
King Nebuchadnezzar made this foolish command, a command that basically says “do this or else.” Do this (bow down and worship this image) or else (you are going into the blazing furnace). We all have people who try to tell us that we will do one thing or else we will face the consequences. As a child, we hear this from our parents; however, this continues all through life.
People will try to get you to sway in your faith. People will attempt to pull you away from God. It might not be intentional. It might not seem to be such a bad thing at first. You may not even realize when it is happening. Again and again the Bible tells us to stand firm. There is a reason—there are so many “or elses” given and we find ourselves caving, we find ourselves accepting something we shouldn’t or doing something we shouldn’t because it’s easy, it’s what the crowd is doing, and we don’t want to cause any waves.
Stand firm. Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego stood firm and they weren’t alone in that furnace. You aren’t alone either. Today, if you find yourself being told to bow down to something, remember that you are not alone, even through the “or else.”
“But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” – Daniel 3:18 [NIV]
The beginning of this verse sets the tone. It is a phrase that is sometimes hard to chew on for us. Imagine this—even if God doesn’t do what I am hoping and praying He does—even if God doesn’t show up in the same way I expected—even if I have to face hardship and possibly death—I will not back down. I will stand firm. I will continue to serve God with all that I have and with all that I am.
We should possibly read that paragraph over when we are praying for healing. We should read that over when we just lost our job and are about to foreclose on our mortgage. We should read that again when we are given a moment to defend our faith but it comes with consequences.
That “but” is a hard word to face. These men were facing the possibility of a fiery furnace. What if it didn’t end the way it did? What if they were burned alive, three martyrs burnt alive? We take this historical event and think that it will be the same for our lives. There will be a similarity—God will show up. He always does. However, He might not do what we expect. He could stand with us in the furnace to deliver us and we could come out not even smelling like the fire. But, He could stand with us in the furnace and we might not get out as we planned.
Today, I want to challenge you. Your faith in God should rest on His character, not what He does for you. It is hard; however, we need to face the “but” in life. He is faithful. He will not leave you. He has a plan and purpose for your life—a hope and future. But it might not be what you think. Continue to seek His will for your life, being okay with the “but.”
“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand.” – Daniel 3:17 [NIV]
Could you imagine being the three young men standing before Nebuchadnezzar and this promise of the furnace? They stood before him and declared that God was able. God was able to deliver. God was able to defend them. God was able to save them. God was able.
We each have a furnace before us—it may be a situation at work, problems at home, a family issue, a health ailment, etc.—and we might see the furnace heat get cranked up like these three men did. But we need to remind ourselves that our God is able. God will deliver us.
Don’t cower down when you feel the heat. Allow God to help you rise above. These young men stood tall with the Lord, and take note—they were with the Lord every step of the way. God is with you. He is able. Whatever you may be facing today, you are not doing it alone.