A Pastor’s Thoughts: In the Fire?

A Pastor’s Thoughts: In the Fire?Pictured is Rev. Nancy Adams, Owego UMC. Provided photo.

I preached a few weeks ago on the story of Shadrach, Meschak, and Abednego from the book of Daniel, Chapter 3, in the Old Testament. Daniel and his friends, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, better known as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, were carried off from Jerusalem into exile in Babylon.

They were taken, educated on full scholarships for three years at Babylon University so that when they moved into the workforce they would keep their own Jewish people in check because they would have been completely indoctrinated in Babylonian culture  – at least that was the King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar’s plan.  

Nebuchadnezzar had a statue built of himself to which all the people were to bow down to when they heard special music played. These three Hebrew friends refused to bow down, and as a result were thrown into a fiery furnace.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego intentionally decided that they were going to live holy lives, pleasing to the one and only true God. Having made that decision before the tough situations that life brings came along, they were able to be steadfast. Were they perfect? No. They were human, just like us. But people were watching to see what they would do, and they maintained their integrity and commitment to God. They remembered who they were and “whose” they were.

It is important to note that our faith doesn’t make us immune to illness, or car accidents, or job losses, or financial difficulties, or disappointments, or heart-wrenching family issues, etc. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were not prevented from situations that challenged their faith, and neither are we. 

Cassie Bernall and Rachel Scott witnessed to their faith in Jesus Christ until they took their final breaths before being murdered in the massacre at Columbine High School several years ago. The three friends in this story didn’t know if they would die or be delivered from the fiery furnace, but they were not going to bow down to the idol. Cassie and Rachel didn’t cave under the pressure, and neither did Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. 

We will probably never be in a situation like they were – but here’s the deal, they didn’t even have to think about it because they had already made up their minds to live Godly lives before they faced these unforeseen situations. We need to decide when we’re not under pressure so that when we are under pressure, we won’t cave. 

Have there been situations when I caved? Yes. I’m not proud to admit that. I am grateful for God’s mercy and grace!       

One thing to glean from this story is the fact that our faith doesn’t keep us out of the fire. Also not to be missed is that these three friends were not alone in the fire. The three were thrown into the fire, but four were seen in the fire. Scholars disagree as to whether it was an angel or the pre-incarnate Christ, but they were not alone in the fire. 

Hear the good news: neither are we alone in the fire! If you are in the fire right now, allow me to encourage you, like Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego, you are not alone! There is One with you in the midst of the fire who will see you through the fire. Thanks be to God! 

Whether we find ourselves “in the fire” now, all of us at one time or another have been there, and will no doubt be there again sometime. That’s called life. God doesn’t promise to take us out of the fire, but God does promise to be with us in the midst of the fire. 

Our Lord has been faithful in the past, is faithful in the present, and will be faithful in the future. We are not alone – no matter what fires we may be experiencing. Thanks be to God!

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