Bear with me if you’ve heard this one before (or just skip to the very end and read the last 2 paragraphs).
A long time ago in Ancient Babylon there were 3 Hebrew teenagers. Now because we aren’t in Ancient Babylon I’m going to take some artistic liberties and give these boys modern names. Let’s just call them Chad, Mike, and Ben. They were captives serving the King of Babylon. They were chosen to be servants instead of being killed because they were smart, good looking, and came from noble families back in Israel. They should have show gratitude to the King for sparing their lives. Instead, they refused to eat the food he sent from his own table because it had been sacrificed to idols and that was morally repulsive to a Hebrew. For their moral courage, God gave them knowledge and understanding of all kinds in addition to favor with the King. They were given important government jobs in Babylon.
Time passed, and one day the King of Babylon got a wild idea. He constructed a huge golden statue of himself, set it out on a plain, and required everyone to come and worship his statue. He ordered everyone, “When you hear the band start to play music, bow down and worship my statue.” Chad, Mike and Ben knew that this was wrong. So when the music started and everyone dropped to their knees there were 3 boys left standing. The King called Chad, Mike and Ben in for a talk. “Now because I like you boys, I’m going to give you a second chance. When you hear the music, bow down to the statue. Come on guys, be team players, you’re making me look bad. Just bend your knees, that’s all I ask. Otherwise I’m going to have to throw you in a fiery furnace in front of everyone just to show who’s boss. Then what god will rescue you from my anger?”
The boys replied, “We don’t need a second chance. It will be the same as before. We only bow to the God we serve. And he is able to save us from your hand and the fiery furnace. But even if he doesn’t, we want you to know that we will not serve your gods or bow to your statue, O King.”
That pissed the King off in a big way! He ordered the furnace turned up seven times hotter than usual. It was so hot that the soldiers ordered to throw the boys in the fire dropped dead from the heat. These three boys fell into the flames, bound hand and foot.
Suddenly, the King jumped to his feet in amazement. He shouted, “Hey! Weren’t there three guys that we tied up and threw in the fire? Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods!” So he called them out of the fire. When they walked out alive everyone crowded around them to examine them. There was not a hair singed on their heads and they didn’t even smell like smoke! The King burst out in praise to God, the God who rescued Chad, Mike and Ben. And he ordered that everyone worship the one true God too. The End.
Here’s my point in telling this story. Very often we pray that God would rescue us from the flames of whatever trial we are facing. But sometimes he doesn’t. Sometimes God wants us to go into the fire. Sometimes God wants to rescue us IN the fire instead of rescuing us FROM the fire. But there is another option too. Sometimes it is God’s will that we die in the fire. The history of the world is full of people who have died for their faith, martyrs. And Chad, Mike and Ben were OK with any of those 3 final scenarios. Any of them. They said, “Even if God doesn’t rescue us, we will still worship him.”
So yes, God can rescue you FROM the fire. He can meet you IN the fire. Or he can ask you to DIE by fire either physically or metaphorically. It’s his choice. Are you all right with all of those choices? Would you stand firm in your commitment to God even if it looks like it’s not going to have a pretty ending? Is God still worthy of your worship even if he doesn’t answer your prayers like you wanted him to? Walking through the fire could be your finest moment with God, because he won’t let you go there alone. If he calls you to the fire, he will be with you. He promised.