It’s easy in the midst of a trial to forget God’s goodness. When we’re suffering, we often lose sight of the big picture.
I’ve been studying the book of Daniel and gleaned some treasures from an old, familiar story: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego on the plain of Dura.
King Nebuchadnezzar had built a 90-ft. statue and assembled a crowd of important people—government officials, satraps, and leaders—to dedicate it. He commanded everyone to bow down and worship the statue whenever they heard the music, or be thrown into a furnace.
If you don’t already know the story, a plain full of important government officials bowed down to the statue when the music played. I’m picturing hundreds and hundreds.
All but three.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were living the good life. They had cushy jobs working for the world power’s leader and all of the benefits that came with it.
But instead of holding onto comfort and security with an iron grip, they defied Nebuchadnezzar’s order and remained faithful to God’s command not to bow to any other god.
Things haven’t changed much for us. We have choices every day—the comfortable, easy way, or the right way?
We can learn much from the Brave Three’s example.
1) God didn’t keep them from the fire. They kept believing anyway.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego told King Nebuchadnezzar that God could save them, but even if He chose not to, they would not commit idolatry.
(And I sometimes think my problems are serious!)
Like Daniel’s three faithful friends, we are guaranteed trials in this world.
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation” (I Peter 4:12-13).
In fact, they didn’t even ask God to spare them. They trusted Him because He’d brought them through scary times before.
As teenagers, they’d been shackled to other captives and marched from Jerusalem to Babylon. They’d risked their reputations and even their livelihoods when they’d asked for vegetables instead of the king’s choice food and wine.
We will face trials in this life. It’s not a matter of if, but a matter of how we face them.
2) Sometimes our trials aren’t just about us.
Others are watching the way we handle our less-than-ideal circumstances. Nebuchadnezzar’s response to their refusal to bow to an idol illustrates the power of God through a believer’s example.
“Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way” (Daniel 3: 28-29).
God’s goodness extended to the major world power’s ruler of the time. Nebuchadnezzar, who’d waged war against the Holy City, ransacked the temple, and captured God’s chosen people, saw the Most High God deliver His faithful servants from an excruciating death. The Babylonian King recognized that no other gods had that much power. It wasn’t the first time God extended His mercy to Nebuchadnezzar, and it wouldn’t be the last.
3) God is always with us.
Nebuchadnezzar was shocked to see a fourth man inside the furnace, all of them walking around like they were at a picnic in the park.
There’s debate among Christian theologians and scholars about who this fourth man is. Some say Jesus; some say an angel. Regardless, we know the fourth man was from God, sent to protect His servants.
And we have His promise that He’ll be with us too, no matter what the trial.
“Be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
Even when we can only see the flames, we know that we’ll never face our trials alone.
If you’re like me, you’d rather have a smooth and comfortable life than to deal with trials. But looking back on the ways God rescued me, I don’t think I would change a thing.
He’s shown me over and over again that it’s better to follow hard after Him than to exchange that journey for comfort and ease. Our example makes a big difference in the lives of those who surround us.
His goodness, even through the trials, is abundantly evident. We just have to look for it.
“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD” (Psalm 27:13-14).