“Now if you are ready, at the moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, and bagpipe, and all kinds of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, very well. But if you will not worship, you will immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire; and what god is there who can deliver you out of my hands?”
Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (Daniel 3:15-18, NASB)
It has been said that there is nothing more certain on earth than death and taxes. Of course, the flip side of this sentiment is that almost all of life is uncertain. Consequently, humans are forever trying to make a “best guess” when it comes to decision making. Trends are studied, risks are ostensibly counted, and costs of potential choices are weighed; all aimed at reaching the most informed and preferential outcome. The reason for such ambiguity is connected to the inability to know the future.
How is life possible under such conditions? Have questions like the following ever vexed you? Who should I marry? What career path should I take? How should I discipline my children? Should I trust my doctor’s opinion? How do I care for my aging loved one? What home should I purchase? Should I tell the truth? Is this the right time to retire? Is there anything more to life than this? Were things supposed to be this way? Should I cheat on this test? Do my parents really know what they are talking about? Does anyone really care? Is God really there? Does God really hear?
Endless questions; all rooted in uncertainty; all based on limited knowledge, especially about a seemingly unknowable future. However, there is another approach to life. This standard is entirely different and buries its roots in the enduring soil of the sovereignty of God. Stated more simply, faith placed in Jesus Christ as Lord.
Daniel exemplifies this kind of certainty in the lives of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego in the December 7th reading from the devotional Bible. When threatened with eminent destruction in a situation completely out of their control (which actually is an illusion anyway; control does not reside in human authority) the three young men demonstrate incredible fortitude. How; because they see themselves as great? No. They see their God as great. Do they act as if they deserve a privileged result from their trial? No. They rest in whatever choice their God will embrace, not one of their own personal affection.
The end result of their ordeal, after they are thrown into the furnace, is a stroll with a fourth individual who “is like a son of the gods!” (Daniel 3:25, NASB) They actually get to walk with Jesus!
The even more important aspect of the story is not that they were delivered from the fire; but through the journey of the trial, they spent personal time with their Creator. Struggles have an amazing ability to reveal our true helplessness and frailty while bringing to light the ultimate seat of control and power from the Hand of God. In this is rest and assurance. Where does such insight begin? One must embark on this journey at the base of the cross of Jesus, in His death and ultimate resurrection. Only here is human frailty and subjugation certified. Only here is a personal relationship with an infinite God afforded. The trek commences here!