The fires of this life spread far and wide. It’s a cold, cold winter, and though the days are short and the nights are long, the fires still burn.
They’re hot, aren’t they?
They grow in strength, and size, and heat, and they seem unstoppable, insurmountable, uncontrollable.
There’s an orphaned child, a surgery, an overdue bill. There’s a silent heartbeat, an empty bed, a stage four cancer.
There’s life and there’s loss and sometimes there is just so much more ugly than there is beauty and all of it is just so very hot sometimes.
So then we’re left with this. It’s hot in front of us and it’s hot behind us and it’s hot all around. And somehow, we have to get past it, but that hot, it’s going to burn. It’s going to hurt, and it’s going to scar, and it’s going to leave a mark. And we have enough scars, and we have enough marks, and we just aren’t sure whether or not this fire is really fair anyway.
There were three men once, facing the same fires. Commanded to be of the world, not merely in the world. Commanded to forsake their King for something else entirely. Commanded to give up the fight, for there was no victory on their side.
“You will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?” [Daniel 3:15b]
And that’s the way it is sometimes, isn’t it?
It seems that the only way out is around, not through. We leave our path of faith because it cuts right through the heat. We skirt around the edges, where it should be safe. Where the fire doesn’t burn so bright. Yet when we stand on the other side, it still hurts, it still marked, we’ve got scars. And we’re not so sure that we escaped anything at all.
Perhaps, then, it’s not the only way.
Perhaps we walk that path of faith. The path that those three walked. That path that cuts right through the valley of the shadow of death, of heat, of fire.
“We do not need to defend ourselves […]. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it […].” [Daniel 3:17]
“In the middle of it all
When I thought You were a thousand miles away
Not for a moment did You forsake me
After all You are constant
After all You are only good
After all You are sovereign
Not for a moment will You forsake me”
[Meredith Andrews: Not For a Moment]
Those three. Firm they stood in their faith. Firm they stood in the face of the heat.
Oh. Of course.
There were happy to burn because the King would deliver them. That makes perfect sense.
Here’s the kicker. Here’s the thing that takes my breath away.
Here’s the type of faith that I am chasing, the type of hope that I want to cling to.
“But even if He does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not.” [Daniel 3:18]
AND IF NOT, HE IS STILL GOOD.
Even if we burn, we’re healed.
Even if we lose, we win.
Even if He does not save us now, we are still safe.
But then. That story, those three, it wasn’t done.
“Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” [Daniel 3:25]
It seems that the only way out is around, not through. We leave our path of faith because it cuts right through the heat. Remember this?
But here’s the thing we’ll find if we stay on the path of faith. Here’s the thing we’ll find in the midst of all that heat.
WE DO NOT WALK ALONE.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” [Joshua 1:9]
“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” [Deuteronomy 31:6]
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” [Isaiah 41:10]
There’s more. So much more. There’s promise after promise, hope after hope.
If the King is mine, than the fire doesn’t burn.
If the King does not, I still will not.
If the King is the Savior, than the King saves us.
And that’s the type of faith that I am chasing. That’s the type of hope I cling to.
Tomorrow, another fire is going to burn. There will be heat, and fear, and all kinds of ugly.
Yet, I will take the hand of the King and I will march right through the flames.