Stand up in the fire
They stood up for their beliefs and found themselves in a fiery furnace. Hotter than normal. Punished by a selfish and mean king. But as they stood in the fire, they remembered the most important thing. They remembered it all depends on God.
The three heroes in today’s first reading are all about remembering the good things God had done for them. In exile, serving a brutal king, they remembered their true king was God. And in this, they remembered something far more important. They remembered that in all things, God would never abandon them.
This is particularly remarkable when one considers that all they really needed to do is to obey Nebuchadnezzar. Couldn’t they have just pretended to follow Nebuchadnezzar? Of course not. If they wanted an authentic relationship with God, then what they needed to remember is that they could not pretend. They believed in God, even if it meant being thrown into the fire.
For it is often in the fire that we are most tested. When things are really challenging, we may not even believe that we can survive. Who can imagine being a martyr? Who sees themselves as easily standing up for what is right? How will we confront that person who treats others badly?
These situations, and others like it, put us into the fire. But if we remember the story, there are not just the three, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. No, there is a fourth, like a son of God, also in the fire. Even in the flames, they are cool, because they are not alone. God is with them.
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