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|Even if . . .|
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I grew up in a Christian home and regularly went to Sunday School as a child. I loved hearing stories from the Bible about people such as Esther, Abraham, Moses, Ruth, Mary and Joseph.
One story I've liked since childhood is that of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and the Fiery Furnace, which can be found in Daniel 3:1-30. These three Jews living in exile refused to bow down to King Nebuchadnezzar's huge golden statue. The King punished them by having them thrown into the fiery furnace because they refused to worship anyone but God. However, when they were in the furnace the King saw a fourth man walking around with them who he thought must be a god. As a result, the men were released - they were unharmed and their clothes didn't even smell of smoke. The King praised their God and acknowledged their right to worship the one true God.
I want to share with you today, why this account of these three young men has come to mean so much to me and how I draw great encouragement from it.
"If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” Daniel 3:17-18 (NLT)
1. The confidence they have in God - they knew, without a shadow of a doubt, and they testified that God had the power to save them. They knew God's power was greater even than this powerful, earthly King.
2. Their courage in the statement that they will never serve or worship any false gods.They are willing to suffer and die for their faith.
3. Their incredible faith in the face of adversity, which enabled them to say that even if God chose not to save them they were still determined to trust and follow him.
4. God didn't remove them from this trial but he was most definitely with them in the trial. Bible scholars believe that the fourth person walking with them in the trial was the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ.
Last, but not least, their response to their trial brought glory to God. It was evident in their words and actions that God was the one they trusted in and who had first place in their life. Because of them, God was made visible to the King and his people.
I believe God used this trial to strengthen their faith in him and bring them into a deeper relationship with himself.
God brought them through this trial and he will bring you and me through ours too. Their story reminds me of what God says in the verses from Isaiah 42:1-2:
The Lord created Jacob and formed Israel. Now, this is what the Lord says:
Do not be afraid, because I have reclaimed you.
I have called you by name; you are mine.
When you go through the sea, I am with you.
When you go through rivers, they will not sweep you away.
When you walk through fire, you will not be burned,
and the flames will not harm you. (GW)
Every one of us will at some time or another go through testing times. I don't know what trial you may be going through right now, maybe it's parenting a rebellious teenager, problems with your health or that of a loved one, difficulties at work, a challenging relationship, or something else. The testing time for me has been living with chronic migraines and ME for more than twenty years.
Through my trial I can say:
1. My confidence is in my God - the all-powerful, mighty one. He is more powerful and greater than any trial, difficulty or problem I will ever go through and my God is mighty to save.
2. My relationship with God gives me the courage to endure the trial.
3. God is using this trial to strengthen and deepen my faith in him and draw me closer to himself. Yes, it's been and still is at times, a long, hard struggle but I have come to the point where I can say I know that he has the power to remove this trial from me, but even if he doesn't, I will still trust him.
4. I know, from learning from the examples of men and women in the Bible and from my own experience that God is with me in my trial. Even if he chooses not to remove the trial, he has promised to be with me. He walks with me in the trial. Even if I do not always feel his presence I know he is there. He is not some distant, uncaring, unfeeling God who is powerless to help. He is right beside me. I do not go through this on my own.
5. My desire is to bring glory to God in the way I respond to these times of testing and difficulty. So that by the way I live, God will be more visible to those around me. And people will be led to give praise to the Almighty God.
To Think About:
Which men and/or women from the Bible (also include people you know personally, or have heard about) encourage you to keep going even during the difficult times?
If what you read was of interest to you, then you may like to know that my book "Dear Friend...52 Weekly Devotions to Encourage, Challenge and Inspire" is available to buy from Amazon, on Kindle or in paperback. (Its content is material adapted from past blog posts.) To learn more, click on the link below: