Worried? Concerned? Things not going your way?
Is your stomach knotted up by the roller coaster of life? These days, who can blame you? There is so much uncertainty, bad news abounds, relationships are strained and depression is rampant in our society.
So we find ourselves in bed at night, staring up at the fan spinning in the shadows of our room and wondering: “How will I ever get through this?”
How will the bills get paid? What if I’m the one they choose to lay off? How will I meet payroll this week? Can this marriage be salvaged? Will my kids be okay? What will the doctor’s tests say?
And then we drink full measures of hopelessness, the freely poured cocktail of the tormentor of our soul.
How do we dig out of this hole? How do we untie this knot in our stomach?
The answer lies in a Bible story many of us learned as children in Sunday School but somehow forgot as adults.
It’s the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These were the three young men in ancient Babylon who were thrown into a blazing furnace because they refused to renounce their sole fidelity to God.
Their response to the most dire of circumstances is a model for us in our times of duress:
Surrendering Our Circumstances To God
The three men were given the opportunity to avoid the pain of their circumstances. All they needed to do was to bow down to King Nebuchadnezzar and his idols. Instead, they answered with boldness:
16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 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.
Although we often fool ourselves in believing we’re the framers of our own destiny, the reality is ultimately we can’t control our circumstances.
But we can choose our response.
If we have a knot in our stomach, we need to treat it as a warning signal of an under-reliance on God. A questioning of His plan for our life. We need to remove our clammy hands from the driving wheel and trust our circumstances with Him.
Keeping Circumstances In Perspective
The amazing part of this story of these three men of God is what comes next. Not only did they trust God for the results of their actions, but they went further by acknowledging that in the big picture their circumstances didn’t matter!
18 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.”
They weren’t looking for an exchange of favors with God. Some type of Quid Pro Quo. The three men pledged devotion to Him regardless of the outcome.
When we focus on the greatness of God, our troubles become insignificant. Fixing our eyes on Jesus fixes our anxiety.
Embrace The Blessings
So many of us pray for relief from our problems and pain. And we’re encouraged by Scripture to do so. However; we must not be so obsessed with fleeing hardship that we end up tossing away the rose with the thorns.
Here’s what happened as a result of the stand these three men made in the name of God:
28 Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.
The mighty king of Babylon was able to see God glorified through their faith. They provided a great testimony to not only him, but to an entire nation.
Few things express faith more powerfully than quiet confidence in God through the midst of great storms.
How do you respond to the high winds of life? Panic? Depression? Or do people marvel at your faith?
We must not be discouraged by the challenges of life, but instead be lifted by God’s presence through all challenges.
The ultimate reward for each of us during difficult circumstances is our return to closeness with God. It’s in our poverty of circumstances when we are best reminded we are not in control, when we are most attune to God’s teaching and when we are most open to His shaping of our character.
As Believers, ours is a life of victory. We know how the story ends. Which means worry is the greatest of lies.
In difficult times, our prayer should not only be for deliverance, but also for a heart of celebration. For the optimist expects clouds to have a silver lining, but the faithful one simply celebrates the maker of the clouds.
It isn’t easy. In fact it’s the great struggle of our faith.
But once we learn to appreciate the gift of life’s challenges, there remain no obstacles, no great burdens and all that is before us, are roads paved with joy.
Looking for more from Michael K Reynolds? You might also enjoy Has God Left Heaven?
Michael K. Reynolds is a writer with more than two decades of experience in crafting fiction, non-fiction, journalism, copywriting and documentary production. He is represented by Janet Kobobel Grant of Books & Such Literary Agency. He is the author of a series of Irish historical novels published by B&H Publishing Group. These highly acclaimed books are available in bookstores and libraries across the nation and beyond.