No matter where I live or what the circumstances I seem to find myself in furnace experiences. Maybe you can relate.
At first I notice one or two things are not progressing the way I’d like. I work harder, but somehow everything around me starts going wrong. I get the sense I’m being judged and found wanting.
I’m not doing enough. I can’t do anything right. I reach the conclusion that there’s no point in trying. I have no hope to even get myself up in the morning.
The intensity threatens to melt me. I retreat into silence. I feel utterly alone unable even to cry out to the LORD. I’m convinced I’ll never smile again. Have you ever been there?
Thankfully, the last time I was being powerfully refined El Shaddai met me through a sermon.
“Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?”
They replied, “Certainly, O king.”
He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” Daniel 3:24-25
I could easily imagine the heat those guys faced.
I could not imagine my bonds vanishing or my wounds being healed. At that moment the thing I wanted most was release from the loneliness.
The pastor spoke about the Fourth Man and I was intrigued. I needed to know what to do to get that guy to join me in my furnace. My eyes were drawn back a few verses.
“If you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied to the king, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.’ Daniel 3:15b-18 (NIV, 1984)
I turned my attention away from the trials and back toward the throne. The King of kings and Lord of lords promised to never leave me nor forsake me. He is in the furnace with me as surely as He is in the meadows. No matter the circumstances I am/we are never alone. Hallelujah!