I don’t know why certain things have happened to me. Life hasn’t been easy. Many times I’ve pleaded with God to deliver me, but He hasn’t. During these times, I’ve had to remind myself that God is doing something greater than my mind can understand. He is engineering my circumstances so they will benefit me immensely in the long run. He is using what feels like a fiery furnace to help me know His love by experience, to strengthen my trust in Him, to teach me, and to use my life in ways it wouldn’t have been used otherwise.
We’ve all found ourselves in “fiery furnaces,” where God must show up or else. I think about the biblical account of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These three Hebrew boys were thrown into an actual fiery furnace because they refused to worship the golden idol that King Nebuchadnezzar had constructed.
Rather than compromise their faith, the boys stood firm, trusting that God would deliver them from the fire. Read Daniel 3:17 NIV: “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.”
But what I really love in this story is the boys’ commitment to God, shown in the next verse: “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” (Daniel 3:18 NIV).
“But even if He does not”—these are powerful words. Even if God didn’t deliver Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from the fire, they were still going to be faithful and obedient to Him. They would rather die in integrity, than live in iniquity. When I think of this account, I have to ask myself, “Will I put my complete trust in God and let Him use me for His purposes, regardless of whether He delivers me or not? Will I stay in faith and do what is right?”
I’m in prison for breaking the law. Over the past 30 years, I’ve paid my debt many times over. I know God could deliver me if He wanted to; but He hasn’t intervened.
Adopting Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s “but if not” attitude has enabled me to trust God without a guarantee of deliverance. It has allowed me to look at my prison furnace differently and recognize that God has a reason behind my circumstances. I know He alone possesses absolute wisdom, and it is this wisdom and His love for me that I must trust.
Whether or not God delivers me from the fiery furnace of prison, I have decided, like those Hebrew boys, that I will continue to praise Him. I will continue to declare His faithfulness and His love to all who will listen. I will continue to be obedient to Him. God deserves my praise regardless of my circumstances. And you know what? As I’ve praised Him, I’ve been able to endure the fire. And as I’ve obeyed Him, I’ve been blessed.
Over the past 30 years, God has been my strength. My protection. My provision. My peace. My joy. He is the power that has sustained me. He continues to work all things out for my good and for His glory (Romans 8:28).
Prison has been my crucible—the refining pot that God has used to teach me to trust Him and to draw me closer to Himself. And no matter how hot the fire has gotten, God has been right there with me, just as he was for those Hebrew boys (Daniel 3:25). He has never forsaken me. Further, what man designed to confine me, He has used to set me free. He took what Satan meant to kill me and used it to lead me to eternal life. For that alone, I will always praise Him.