“But even if You don’t/ My hope is You alone”- MercyMe
“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods . . .”- Daniel 3:17-18
After graduation from Concordia Teachers College in River Forest, IL, St. Paul Lutheran School called me to teach grades three and four. Sometime during the winter of 1974-75, I developed the worst sinus infection I’ve ever experienced. Extreme congestion reduced my voice to a whisper. Therefore, even if I reported to school, I faced a communication dilemma.
As a result, my industrious students seized the day. Presented with the opportunity to be my voice, they eagerly volunteered to read answers from the teachers guides and give directions for assignments. Our cohesive classroom community carried through the next two days without a hitch.
Writing in Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering, Timothy Keller notes a puzzling statement in Daniel 3:18. The verse begins, “But even if he does not”. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego admit the possibility God might not deliver them. Why? Because they place their confidence in God. They chose not to rely on their limited understanding of what God would do. In other words, Pastor Keller adds, the three men trusted in God period. Tim Keller explains:
“But Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego really believed ‘all the way down’ to God. So they were not nervous at all. They were already spiritually fireproofed. . . . Their greatest joy was to honor God, not to use God to get what they wanted in life. And as a result, they were fearless. Nothing could overthrow them.”
In conclusion, Pastor Keller describes three lessons learned from the story of “The Fiery Furnace”:
1. God is with us in the fire. This metaphor means God understands the difficulties of living through the miseries of this world. God walks with us. However, the real question revolves around if we’ll walk with Him. Life falls apart when we create a false God-of-my-program.
2. We must treat God as God and as there. Timothy Keller exhorts: “If you remember with grateful amazement that Jesus was thrown into the ultimate furnace for you, you can begin to sense him in your smaller furnaces with you (emphasis Tim’s).”
3. You must go into the furnace with the gospel to find God there. It’s most dangerous to go into the fire without the gospel. You’ll be mad at God, mad at yourself, or both. If you trust in Jesus, your furnace will only make you better.