I wanted to pop in with a post on something that really resonated with me yesterday. As I’ve mentioned, I’m studying the book of Daniel in a bible study. It’s been very enlightening so far and we’re only on chapter three. (We’re taking it one month per chapter when it’s really made for one week per chapter, so you could say we are only wannabes when it comes to being bonafide bible studiers. Slow and steady wins the race, right?…read: this post).
Actually, there are two things that really resonated with me from chapter three now that I’m reflecting further. I’m only going to talk about one of them here and perhaps I’ll cover the other next week.
In the part of the book of Daniel that we studied for today’s meeting, Daniels’ friends and fellow servants of God – Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego – face a fiery trial. Actually, quite literally, they are about to be burned to death in a furnace for pronouncing the Lord as their one and only God to the King of the Babylon, King Nebuchadnezzar. (Don’t think for a second I am spelling these names from memory…glad that as the world has gone on, we’ve settled on names more like “Pam” and “Joe.”)
So these three men rise to the occasion with their lives at stake so close in front of them they can smell the fire and feel its warmth. In rage, King Nebuchadnezzar proceeds to command that the furnace be heated seven times hotter than usual. They still stand resolute. The men he orders from his army take the three men and throw them into the blazing furnace to perish.
Daniel 3:24 reads, “But suddenly as he [the king] was watching, he jumped up in amazement and exclaimed to the advisers, “Didn’t we tie up three men and throw them into the furnace…I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire. They aren’t even hurt by the flames! And the fourth looks like a divine being!”
In this instance, what God is doing is literally bringing his three children, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, through the fire. Isaiah 43:2 reads, “When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”
So many times in our own lives, God brings us through fires, too. Any rough time you have had in your life, prayed about and gotten through – that was God delivering you through the fire.
The study goes on to outline the three scenarios that occur when we face trials, and how each impacts our faith as a result.
God delivers us from the fire. The result is our faith is built.
Example: The brain tumor my sister was diagnosed with was pronounced benign last week. He delivered her from having to deal with that fire. You can read about that in this post. Our faith is built in this scenario because our prayers were answered.
God delivers us through the fire. The result is our faith is refined.
Example: God takes people through their cancer journeys. He takes people through experiences like poverty or homelessness. During this time, as he helps them battle their trials, their faith is challenged and refined in a way it could never be without facing trials. *Hint – this is why he gives us trials in the first place! To challenge and refine our faith in him!
We can be delivered by the fire into His arms. The result is our faith is perfected. We reach our destination; we achieve the goal of our lives: eternity in heaven.
Example: someone you love dies in a car crash, loses his battle to disease, or perishes fighting for our country. God welcomes them into heaven with open arms. They have made it.
These scenarios gave me chills. How true they are in our own lives. Although we haven’t faced scenario three, death, that’s the one that I think is the most beautiful.
Of course, we always want and pray for scenario #1. This is only natural! We don’t want to face a fire at all, please and thank you very much, God.
And when #1 ends up not happening, we plead for #2. We don’t want the death that comes with #3! But the study talks about how this reveals our limited, earthly understanding; if we really knew what awaits us in eternity, the scenario we’d be craving all along is #3.
So then, I know what you’re thinking: Why does there have to be a #3? Why does God let #3 even happen? Why does God deliver people by the fire/their trials into His arms – into death? Why does He let that happen! A mom of four young kids who dies of cancer – why does he take her home to heaven?
This part, this is the hardest to understand.
We can seek and find comfort.
- The study talks about the fact that peoples’ deaths serve as examples for others and often dramatically change the course of those peoples’ lives. Think of MLK or Ghandi, or of someone in your own life who lost their courageous battle with cancer or even died of a drug addiction. These stories change our earthly lives. Because of MLK and Ghandi, more people have been inspired to fight for justice in peaceful manners, and devote their lives to civil rights and freedom and the Lord’s work. Because of the person you know who lost his or her life to cancer, you are inspired to cherish each day more and live with the faith they exhibited during their time on earth. Because of the person who died of a drug overdose, perhaps dozens of lives are saved when drug addicts hear that person’s powerful story of death and decide it’s time: they will never use drugs again.
- The study talks about God delivering people by the fire into His arms because perhaps He wants to reward them even more. Perhaps a missionary in the Middle East is killed, for example. Maybe God wanted to reward that person for the way he or she died – spreading God’s message right then and there. (And remember, we don’t think of death as a reward now because we don’t look at it that way, but oh how we will when we get to Heaven!)
- And finally, if following the death of a loved one, you still struggle and yell to God, “Why?”, know that He understands and feels your pain with you. He doesn’t like to see you suffer. In this case, I think we must resolve to have childlike faith. There is a divine reason for everyone’s death – even in tragic circumstances – even if we can’t comprehend that reason during our time on earth. One day, rest assured, it will be clear. You must keep your faith.
I know, right? This is heavy stuff for a Thursday. But it’s also supremely comforting stuff, and divinely beautiful stuff. It has made me think about the trials God gives us in our lives in such a different light this week. Our trials and our loved ones’ trials are not happenstance. If He brings you to it, He’ll bring you through it, even if that means delivery into His arms in paradise.