At some point in the life of every believer, a trial will come that will test their faith. With trials come frustration, grief, and desperation. Maybe in your trial, you believed that if you were faithful God would take the struggle from you, but He didn’t. Maybe you have done everything you know to do, asked the right questions, prayed the right prayers, and sought counsel from wise people, but nothing seems to change. The trial just will not be lifted.
If so, you’re not alone. In fact, in the New Testament, Peter warns believers:
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. I Peter 4:12 & 13
In other words, if you walk with Jesus long enough, a trial is bound to happen. Trials solidify and increase our faith. They help build spiritual muscles. They also let us experience suffering with Christ.
Wow, there wasn’t a lot of sugar coating to that delivery was there? Trials happen – expect them. Great, but where is the good news? I am totally getting there, I promise, but to illustrate walking through a fiery trial (literally), let’s look at the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednago. If you don’t know the story, it can be found in Daniel, chapter 3. Here is a summary of the story:
The King of Babylon, Nebachadnezzar, had an immense, golden statue constructed, and he commanded all of his officials to bow down to it. The whole scenario was a little pompous, but for the average official obeying his command was of no real consequence. This was not the case for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednago. They were Jewish transplants, having been taken captive and brought into Babylon as teenagers, and they followed Yahweh only. So, when the music played, they refused to bow down.
In every situation, you can count on some tattle-tales to arrive on the scene, and this scenario was no different. Some astrologers told the King that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednago had not bowed down to the statue. King Nebachadnezzar was incredulous! He warned the three men that, if they would not bow down, they would be thrown into a fiery furnace.
I think this definitely qualifies as a fiery trial. It doesn’t get much warmer than that. Still, the three men did not back down but boldly replied:
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. 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: 17-18 NIV
The King was irate and ordered the furnace be heated up seven times hotter than normal. He commanded that the three men be thrown in. The fire was so hot, that even the men who threw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednago into the furnace died in the flames.
Now this is where the story becomes utterly amazing!
When the king looked into the furnace, there were men walking around. How could they be alive? Not only that, but there was a fourth man in the fire, and he looked like “a son of the gods.”
Most Christians throughout history believe that He wasn’t “a son of gods” but the Son of God. Jesus himself entered the fire with those men. The King hurriedly called them out of the furnace, and the three men exited the fire unscarred, unburned, without even the smell of smoke on their clothes.
The King was so amazed and moved by this miracle, that He proclaimed that no one in the nation could ever again speak badly of the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednago.
What can this story teach us about how to live by faith through trials?
- We can trust that if He doesn’t save us from the trial, Jesus will be with us in the midst of it. He will never leave us to struggle alone.
- If He does not spare us from a trial, then we can know with certainty that He will work the trial out to increase our faith and increase His glory.
Pause: Open your Bible and read Daniel 3. If you felt distracted the first time, take a deep breath, and try reading it again.
Renew: Are you currently facing a trial that is testing your faith and resolve? If not currently, have you faced a trial like this in the past? What truths can you hold onto that help you stand strong in your faith in the midst of hardship?
Next: If you are currently facing a trial, ask others to pray with you about it. There’s no need to face it alone. If you are not currently going through a trial, but you know someone who is, pray for them. Ask how you can help support them.
May we have faith to see the fourth Man in the fire with us!
Pause, Renew, Next!