I think sometimes people outside of Christianity are under the false impression that life is always great for Christians. Once we are ‘saved’ we can breathe a sigh of relief because we are on Easy Street now. I’m not sure why they may think that. Heck, even some Christians are under that false assumption. The Bible certainly doesn’t say that (but I guess they probably aren’t reading too much of that) and if you observe life at all you would see it is definitely not the case. I think if a Christian thinks this for whatever reason then they are going to be sorely disappointed (and even angry) when they find that, yeah, bad stuff still happens.
I love the folktale of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abendego from the book of Daniel in the Old Testament. It is a perfect example of bad things still happening even when we think we are doing what is right. Ok, things definitely could have gone worse for these guys but they certainly did not go how they were maybe hoping. Let’s go to the clip…
So here is this King Neuchadnezzar, king of Babylon/Jerusalem, and he thinks pretty dang highly of himself for having beseiged the place he now (forcefully) rules. He has some weird dreams, Daniel almost gets eaten by lions (another great example of where things could have definitely gone worse,but were not super great either) but I want to focus on a little story right in the middle of all this and 3 guys just trying to do what they felt was right.
Nebuchadnezzar had this weird dream and because of that he decided to go ahead and build a giant gold statue that he wanted all of his people to bow down to and worship. Most everyone was like, “Yeah, ok, cool. We will do that.” But word got back around to him that 3 Jews whom worked for the king were NOT having it. So, of course, he called them in.
The King asked if it was true an they were like, “Yup!”. So he gave them one more chance to change their ways and bow to his god. They refused. One of the first things God ever told people back in Exodus was to have no other gods before the true God. The guys put more stock in that than the angry rantings of this king they worked for. So Nebuchadnezzar decided to light up a hugh firey furnace and throw them in.
Now would have been a PERFECT time for God to step in, save the day, destroy the King, and serve cookies and punch in the Narthex. The guys did what they were supposed to! They stood up to The Man. But… not the case. The three WERE thrown into this huge fire. The king quickly realized that not only were they NOT burning up but that there was a fourth person in there with them who ‘looks like a god (Daniel 3:25). He called them out and they had not been touched, they did not even smell like smoke. Nebuchadnezzar loved this, started worshipping God, told all his people to as well, and promoted the boys to hight positions. What a day!
How many times have we been in situations similar to this? Maybe not the threat of an actual fire (or maybe so, there are literal fires raging in this country right now that are downright terrifying) but something else scary or hard. How often do we pray for God to make things easy or to tke away the hard stuff? And, you know, sometimes that happens. But a lot of times it does not. We were never ever given a guarantee that life would be easy and free from pain, but we always have the guarnatee that God will be right there with us in the fire. I can’t understand the mysteries of this universe, my human brain cannot even try to compreheand divine things, but it gives me comfort to know that God is there with me through it all.
(*Art Credit: Chris Cook, 2013)