I’ve been reading Daniel this week in the Voice translation. Today I read the part in Chapter 3 about when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were about to be thrown into the furnace because they would not deny their faith by bowing to the idol Nebuchadnezzar had erected. Part of what they said was this: We are ready for the test.
If we knew ahead of time what our tests would be, we could certainly prepare. But often they come in unannounced ways – sudden episodes of bizarre behavior, violence, suicide attempts, or other manifestations of mental illness in our family member or friend.
So how did the three young Jewish men prepare for this test? They knew the rules. If they did not worship the idol they would die. Their preparation had begun long before that moment of decision.
They knew their God because they spent time with Him. Therefore, when the test came, they could declare, “If you throw us into the blazing furnace, then the God we serve is able to rescue us. . .But even if He does not, O king, you can be sure that we still will not serve your gods and we will not worship the golden statue you erected.” (vs. 17-18)
I can only know God’s love in such a profound way if I spend time reading the Bible and praying. Sounds easy, but it isn’t. Sometimes I was so angry because of what we had to deal with every day – not to mention those unannounced things – that I didn’t even want to talk to God. The singing group Finding Favor has a song about casting cares upon God that states, “This war’s not what I would have chosen, but You see the future no one knows yet, and You’re still good when I can’t see the working of Your hands.”
So you see, I have to hang on to that truth that God is good, and, like the three young men, whatever happens goes through His hands. If I believe that God’s love is perfect and unconditional, then His sovereignty in my life is not to be feared.
It’s a test that I can be prepared for.