Let’s face it—the Christian life is difficult. Social issues abound, and if we are not careful, we will take a worldly view of our success rather than a heavenly view. Trials will come to the believer in Christ. It’s normal.
How do we face the fiery trial?
There was a man in his mid-eighties, standing in front of a coliseum of people. The Emperor and court system of his day had already passed judgement. The man had stood in front of God’s people and preached the Word for nearly six decades. Faithful to God and God’s people.
But the world was watching to see how this balding, stooped over elderly man would be judged.
Had this man lived in the boom time of the church, he would have been our most beloved statesman. He would have been the Billy Graham of today.
His success was not measurable by the world. Faith in the fire comes from a different view of success. Sir Winston Churchill gave one of the best definitions of success I’ve ever read: “Success is moving from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”
What the heavenly view of success would tell us is: Be obedient. Not talented. Not the most gifted. Certainly not the best looking. Are we obedient as we walk through the fire?
You may remember the three Hebrew boys in Daniel chapter 3. Their real names were Hananiah, Azariah and Mishael. The world even changed their names. The young men were told they were disobedient by not worshiping the golden image. When the music played they were to bow down and worship this false god.
Doesn’t sound too bad—just bow to the world’s way.
But Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego refused. King Nebuchadnezzar, the Emperor of that day, flew into a rage when they refused to bow. The king told them they would be thrown into the fiery furnace.
Their response: “If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the fiery furnace and He will deliver us from your hand, O King.” (Daniel 3:17 NKJV)
But we have a problem today. It’s not that we don’t want to serve God, it’s not even that we don’t believe He will get His people through the fire. The problem we have more than anything else is believing He will be with “me” in the fire.
We know our shortcomings. We know our sinfulness. We know we aren’t the most talented, the most gifted, and I have checked my mirror—I’m not the most handsome.
Why would God pick us to be faithful? We have let Him down time and time again.
There was a story on Facebook a short time ago that really caught my eye. Here it is:
“I came for prayer meeting last night only to find a family of 4 (two very young children) living in a small tent behind our church. We approached them and they were fearful we were going to call the police.
But instead we welcomed them and invited them into the prayer meeting. 20 minutes later, they came in and joined us.
We were blessed when the mom prayed asking God’s forgiveness for giving up on God and asking his help. We were able to put them up at a local hotel for 10 nights.”
Like the mom, too often we have given up on God. We’ve gotten to the fiery furnace and rather than standing strong, we have melted in despair.
It’s easier to not let the fiery trial refine our faith. Cave in a little here and there. Blend in. Bow down. Let’s face it: the trying of our faith is not pleasant in the church.
We feel alone. Abandoned and sometimes cheated by this faith thing.
The three Hebrew youths were thrown into a furnace that was turned up seven times hotter than normal. The fire killed the guards who threw the young men in, but the fire didn’t consume the Hebrews.
Instead, the king saw a fourth man. “‘Look!’ he answered, ‘I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.’” (Daniel 3:25 NKJV)
We are never alone in the fire.
The old man stood before the proconsul, Asarco Philip. A few Christians stood in support, but the senior adult was alone in the arena. He had been a pastor of the church at Smyrna and had studied under the Apostles, especially John. He was the bridge between the Apostles and the future church.
“Are you Polycarp?” the proconsul asked.
“Consider you age. Swear by the spirit of Caesar, repent, and say, ‘Away with the atheists.’”
The Romans believed Christians were atheists because they failed to worship Caesar as Lord. They had no problem if you kneeled before Caesar and God. Just kneel before Caesar as god.
He chose to face the fire. This eighty-six-year-old man had served faithfully and yet all he had to do was just one time bend to the world. Would it really matter?
I don’t know what you are facing, but you have a God who loves you and a Savior who chose you. Jesus would rather die than you miss heaven. The fire maybe hot, but He’s in there with you.
Polycarp was set on fire. Witnesses say he didn’t burn. The soldiers had to run him through with a sword. Flames billowed all around him but his skin wasn’t touched. They say he looked like metal in the refiner’s fire.
That’s why we go through the fire.
1 Peter 1:7 tells us, “These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold–though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.”
You hang on. Jesus Christ is coming. He is with you in the fiery furnace. The trying of your faith doesn’t reveal you, it reflects Him.
Keep Looking Up.
Heaven is closer than you think.
May God bless your day.
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