Week 4: Resilient Faith in the Furnace
Writer: Casey Fiore
Big Idea: There is a myth that faith makes life easy. Righteous living does not always mean our life will be easy, but we have the hope and promise of God’s presence in the furnace. When we allow God’s righteousness to do its work in us, it pours strong foundations for our character.
Key Passages: Daniel 3; Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17
If you’re a twenty-something and raised in Christian home, the story in Daniel 3 carries a specific and inescapable image for you. Not an image of a gigantic golden statue in the image of King Nebuchadnezzar, but a massive chocolate bunny standing in a palace square. Veggie Tales really nailed this one, in my opinion – I don’t think I’d be tempted to bow down to a big gold guy, but chocolate? Hmmm.
In Daniel 3:16-17, three Jewish men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (played by veggies in the Veggie Tales version) refuse the king’s orders to worship an idol, so he threatens to throw them into a furnace. The first part of their reply is an example of steadfast faith: “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.” Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego know the God they worship is mighty to save. He is all-powerful, all-seeing. God isn’t surprised by this situation, He can deliver them from anything, even the physical destruction of a fire.
The first part of their answer exhibits faith, the second shows righteousness: “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.” Faith is believing God is who He says He is. Righteousness is faith in action. Righteousness is reconciling the idea that God is powerful enough to save you from a furnace, but holy enough to die for if He doesn’t.
This story ends happily. But what happens in the Christian life when our stories of adversity, struggle and suffering don’t end how we think they should? Do we act surprised? We shouldn’t. In the book of John, Jesus tells His disciples, “In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Trouble in our lives shouldn’t be surprising, but it also isn’t needless. Paul reminds us in Romans 5 that we can celebrate our sufferings, “Because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Acknowledging God’s righteousness in the midst of strife and allowing that righteousness to do its work in us, creates a foundation for our character that leads us to hope when all seems hopeless.
- Share a story of someone who is an example of steadfast faith in your life.
- We’re told we will have trouble in this life. Why, then, do you think we view trials as an interruption of life rather than part of it?
- When you’re suffering or facing a trial, what is your reaction to God? Do you tend to cling to Him or question Him?
- Give an example of something you can do this week to cultivate God’s righteousness in your everyday life.