I think my jaw actually dropped and my mouth flew open this morning as I read the following passage from Streams in the Desert:*
The three men who were thrown into the fiery furnace came out just as they went in — except for the ropes that had bound them. How often God removes our shackles in the furnace of affliction!
Did your mouth drop open too?
Nothing burned but the ropes that had them bound!
How often have we read or heard the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego and the fiery furnace in Daniel? It’s an amazing story of God’s deliverance and faithfulness. These three men refused to bow down to King Nebuchadnezzar and worship his golden god. The consequence? These men were thrown into a furnace so hot, the king’s men who threw them in died from the heat.
The Scripture tells us that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego were bound in their coats, their trousers, their turbans, and their other garments before they were cast into the flames — they were tied up.
And then the infamous scene from this story:
“Look!” Nebuchadnezzar said. “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.” ~ Daniel 3:25
The Lord Himself entered the fire to keep them safe.
But have you ever noticed that when they entered the fire they were bound, and when Nebuchadnezzar looked into the furnace, they were loosed? I know! Me either. I mean, my eyes had certainly read the words, but never had it occurred to me that the only thing that burned that day were the ropes — the very shackles that held them bound.
I don’t know about you, but the trials in my life have been hot as blue blazes lately — fierce and difficult to survive. But through every single one of them, the Lord has been with me shielding me from the flames, delivering me from the fear.
And as I think about the particulars of the trials — the pain, the purposes — I can see the shackles that held me prisoner while I fought against the trial and I can see Satan squirming because what he meant for evil, God will use for good in my life. The shackles that have kept me bound will burn away in the flames of affliction.
I said, “The shackles that have kept me bound will burn away in the flames of affliction.”
Oh Dear One, let that sink into your knower.
There is triumph in the flames.
Satan cannot keep us bound when we walk in the paths of righteousness set before us.
He cannot keep us bound when we love the Lord our God with all of our heart, and soul, and mind, and strength.
When we choose Him above all else.
The Lord will break every chain, destroy everything that binds us and keeps us from His best. And quite often He will use the trial to do that. Why? Because it is in the difficult place that we decide Whom we have believed in. Is He everything He says He will be? Are His promises true? His mercies great? Is His grace really enough?
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego knew the God in whom they believed.
Through many trials I am learning who He is too.
And I wouldn’t trade that knowledge for anything.