A dear friend of mine was sharing from a devotional today, about times when we are “in the fire.” This devotional was reflecting on the story found in the book of Daniel in the Bible, where his three friends refuse to bow down to a gold idol and are thrown into a fiery furnace for that refusal. But the king who ordered them thrown in saw a very strange sight in that furnace. Not only were the men walking around normally, but there was a fourth man, who looked “like a son of the gods.” And when the three men emerged, not a hair on their body had been singed. These men, their literal experience in the fire, served to demonstrate the glory of God to a whole nation. They didn’t know that at the time – I would like to think they were scared to death, because I would be. And it is a beautiful story about the presence of God in the midst of our fires, our sufferings, our pain.
But to tell you all the truth, I don’t particularly feel like being in the furnace right now. I would rather be a dandelion seed, blown on the wind, carefree and carrying a wish. But all my wishes, and hopes, and dreams right now feel like that dandelion in the picture at the top of this post. Consumed by fire. Doomed. But Daniel’s friends were doomed, too. As much as I don’t want to identify with their predicament because I don’t want to identify with their pain, if I’m going to go through the fire, I pray I could show as steadfast a courage as they did.
“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and He will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
I went outside tonight and looked up at the night sky. And I prayed. Not because I felt like it, or even because I think all of this is going to get easier or better if I pray. But because when I opened my eyes and looked, I felt a connection deep inside with the God who created the night sky as black and fathomless as the depths of the human heart – of my heart. But even in that dark expanse, still I marveled at the shine of the sun on the face of the moon. A reflection of sunlight on rock. God reflecting His brilliance on the cold, barren surface of my heart. And we refer to moonlight as if the moon itself was responsible for creating the light, but it isn’t – it’s just reflecting the sun back to us. And in nature, in people, even in pain, God reflects His light back to us so that even when we are consumed, even when things are black, we have enough light to walk by. To worship by.
And as I worshipped, I saw a star shoot across the sky. And to those who would say it was a coincidence, or perfect timing – it wasn’t. It was intentional; a promise, a gift, an extravagance of diamond brilliance from the One whose brilliance is reflected in all good things. And it is enough. To face the furnace.