Most of us probably know the story of Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (otherwise known as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego) in the fiery furnace. The king made a giant statue and had decreed that whenever the people heard the music playing they were to bow down and worship the idol. Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah would not do this because they followed God and would not bow down and worship anything or anyone else. Because of this, the king was enraged and followed through with the consequences of their decision, which was to throw them in the furnace. The king was SO angry that he ordered them to make the furnace SEVEN times hotter than normal! It was so hot that the guards who threw them into the furnace were killed!
The thought that jumped out at me was “what were Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah thinking while they were being tied up?” WE know the end of the story. WE know that God rescued them and that when they walked out of the furnace they didn’t even smell of smoke! WE know that.
But they didn’t know that. THEY didn’t know what was going to happen. They didn’t know if they would live or die.
What might have gone through their heads? Fear? Peace? Wondering if they should just cave and bow down? How bad would that be, really? They could bow to the statue but still pray to God, right?
I wonder how long it took to tie them up. How long did they have to think? What did those rope burns feel like? Did they feel the heat from the furnace already? Did their thoughts waiver? Did they feel ANY fear?
Daniel 3:16-18 says:
“O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. 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.”
They were prepared either way. They knew that God COULD save them, but He might not. Either way they were not going to waiver on believing in God or trusting or following Him.
Waiting for God is hard.
I feel a little like I’m being tied up right now. I can feel the heat of the furnace on my face. I can hear the roar of the fire. I don’t know what is going to happen once they are done tying me up and throw me in. On this side of the furnace I’m “safe”…sorta. But I don’t know what is going to happen in a few moments when they open up that furnace and throw us in.
God, give me the strength and faith of Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Help me to KNOW you will save me, but if you don’t (in the way I would prefer) let me not doubt your power, love, sovereignty or being worthy of my praise and adoration.
What strengthens your faith in shaky times?