Day 6: July 12, 2017
From my childhood, I have heard the story of Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego and the fiery furnace. As an adult, I thought I knew everything there was to know about it, and quite frankly, I felt like I had outgrown it. Until I heard someone highlight the verse that would later inspire the song: But even if he does not rescue us . . . (Daniel 3:18 CSB). I don’t remember ever considering the fact that God might not save them. And what then?
It had been a long time since I read that particular passage in my Bible when “Even If” became my go-to song. One day, I was sharing the song in Bible study and read aloud the story. When I came to verse 24, tears filled my eyes and my voice broke:
Then King Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in alarm. He said to his advisers, “Didn’t we throw three men, bound, into the fire?” “Yes, of course, Your Majesty,” they replied to the king. He exclaimed, “Look! I see four men, not tied, walking around in the fire unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”
Daniel 3:24-25 CSB
It wasn’t that they were unbound or unharmed that got me. It wasn’t even that they were walking around in a fire so hot that it had killed the men who even came close. No, what got me was Nebuchadnezzar saw FOUR men, not three, and the fourth looked like “a son of the gods.” Jesus was standing in the fire with them. Immediately, another song on my playlist came to mind:
Who walks on the waters
Who speaks to the sea
Who stands in the fire beside me
He roars like a lion
He bled as a lamb
He carries my healing in his hands
No matter how many times someone remarks on my strength (which most days I find greatly lacking), I can tell you with absolute certainty that I could not face another day, not even take another step if Jesus Himself were not standing in the fire beside me. He is the one holding me up. He is “my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts” (Psalm 28:7 ESV).
This past spring, as I was reading through the book of Isaiah, I came across this verse that took my breath away:
“I have refined you, but not as silver is refined. Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering.”
Isaiah 48:10 NLT
I really had to sit a while with that one. Even now, it strikes me. “The furnace of suffering?” That’s no joke.
I don’t know why I didn’t instantly make the correlation between that verse and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego’s fiery furnace, but it wasn’t until many days later, when I read Isaiah 63 did I think of it:
In all their suffering he also suffered, and he personally rescued them. In his love and mercy he redeemed the. He lifted them up and carried them through all the years.”
Isaiah 63:9 NLT (emphasis mine)
He is standing in the fire beside me. So close, that the heat from the flames scorches His own skin. Oh what love that He bestows on me! What grace and mercy! That Jesus would not allow me to bear the furnace of suffering alone, but that He would bear it with me! I could meditate on that for days. The fire is hot and the suffering is unbearable, but God! He is with me!
*Thanks to Chris Tomlin and his song “Jesus”