Many of us would avoid the fires in life if we could. If you asked me today if I wanted hardship tomorrow, I would decline your offer. I say that even knowing the benefit of it. I’ve been in the fire before, and I have always come out better than I went in. Every impossible situation God has allowed me to be in – or even directly placed me in – has shaped me into who I am now. I did not enjoy the heat of the fire while I stood in it, and I don’t think I have the chutzpah to choose to stand in it again, but it does have significant value. Fires reveal the true measure of our faith, and they give us an unrivaled opportunity to see that God is indeed there.
In Daniel 3, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah found their faith put to the test. I know, you call them Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, but I will stick with their Hebrew names. Deal? Okay, back to the action. They were required to bow to a statue of King Nebuchadnezzar, but they declined. They would not bow to any other than God. In faith, they told Nebuchadnezzar that God was able to deliver them from the fiery furnace, if he chose to throw them in there. They believed that He could and that He would deliver them. Now, they did go into the furnace. They were in the fire. Who did they see? God Himself (or Jesus, as it would have had to have been, Who I know is God, but I wanted to distinguish between He and God the Father).
Two things stand out to me in the story. First of all, their faith was validated. Had they not been thrown into the fire, they may have had a sense of relief and a vague sense of God’s intervention, but they would not have had something tangible to point to and glorify God with. The second thing is that God was there, and He was revealed to them, but He was only visible to them once they were in the fire.
It is important for us to allow ourselves to go through fiery trials, for it may be in the very fire we fear that we come face to face with God.