The fiery furnace story with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Hebrew names: Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah) is one of those ever-present Sunday School stories. It is a great story of faith, trust, and most importantly…love.
Love. Yes. Faith and trust really only go so far, especially when it comes to one’s death. Love conquers all. If we were to use the phrase used to King David, perhaps that will help. “A man [in this case, men] after the Lord’s own heart.”Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were men after the Lord’s own heart. Their faith and trust in God had transformed into love. This may seem like a stretch, and that is understandable. Love, though, would seem to be the only movement that would the 3 men to say what they said in response to the king.
The letter from John provides some insight into this conclusion, “But the love of God is truly perfected in whoever keeps his word.” Keeping God’s word (i.e., “not worshiping other gods”) was definitely what the 3 men did, and in a way that is both legend and example.
While a miracle did occur, they did not hold a lack of one against God. As many of us are going through hard times and harder losses, there is a strong temptation to hold the lack of miracles against God. We often want our belief to buy us something with God.
That is not love. That is bargaining. That is not trust. That is exchange. That is not faith.
- How should this understanding of love affect our interactions with others? How should this affect our understanding of church?
- What are lessons that you have learned about the fiery furnace in you life? How did you apply them?
Lord, you have have given us the gift of faith and love. May we continue to deepen our trust in you that we truly able to trust you fully in all things. Amen.