It’s easy to be a Christian when things are going smoothly. It’s easy to praise the Lord when all is well and everybody is happy. It’s easy to praise the Lord when there’s plenty of food on the table and when no one in the family is sick. However, the real test of our Christianity happens during the most difficult times and situations – those times when we are left with nothing but faith.
Have you ever wondered why God allows us to go through problems, pains and trials? Is He a God that takes delight in seeing His children suffer?
NO. God does not rejoice seeing us go through the hardships of life. Rather, He wants us to experience the fullness of His love, lordship, and power. Here are two reasons that will help us see suffering in a different light.
Test of Faith
“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” – Daniel 3:17-18
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego believed in God and they worshipped God, and because of this they got thrown into a fiery furnace to die. But they never blamed nor cursed God for it. They knew they were going to die in the furnace and yet they never complained. It’s amazing how they responded with so much faith, that even in the midst of such threatening situation; they did not give up their convictions. Why? Because they know who God is and they know what God is capable of doing. They know that He is the God that saves.
But that’s not all. Their faith is not anchored in God’s works, miracles and blessings, but their faith is anchored in GOD himself—in who HE IS. They know that the furnace is a test of their character, faith, and devotion to God, because God wants to refine them. He wants to refine their character and their faith by allowing them to experience that kind of testing or suffering. Will they deny God and save themselves? Will they stand up for God and love him till the end, even unto death?
Some Christians could not help but question God and be offended by him whenever trials come their way. But, if we can only see it through Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s perspective, we would not be complaining.
It is in the most difficult of times that our hearts’ contents are reflected, our character is tested, and our motives are revealed.
How do we respond to sufferings? Do we whine and complain to God? Or do we come to our knees in prayer and still thank Him for the blessings despite the problems? Do we blame God for our pains? Or do we ask God to search our hearts and purify us? Do we exercise our faith in the midst of the looming fears and doubts? These fires of testing reveal our innermost thoughts and attitude toward God. And once it is revealed, God can do the refining.
Our sufferings are God’s way of strengthening our faith. They challenge us to step out in faith, to go into the waves, and trust that the Lord is able to deliver us from all these trouble and that He never breaks His Word.
“These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” – 1 Peter 1:7
But a refined faith and character is not the end.
The Fourth Man
“Look!” Nebuchadnezzar shouted. “I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire unharmed! And the fourth looks like a god!.. So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stepped out of the fire. 27 Then the high officers, officials, governors, and advisers crowded around them and saw that the fire had not touched them. Not a hair on their heads was singed, and their clothing was not scorched. They didn’t even smell of smoke!” – Daniel 3:25-27
When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into the blazing furnace, the Lord made sure He was there to witness everything. Yes, that’s the good news. We have a guarantee that God will not allow us to go through suffering without Him being present, without Him going with us, without Him going before us.
God is with us, and He would even go with us inside the furnace of testing. He does not leave us, nor forsake us. He does not let us face the testing alone. He makes sure that He is there. His presence. His power. His protection. It’s amazing to note that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego didn’t even smell of smoke, nor burned their clothes or hair while they were in the furnace, while those who threw them in died instantly because of the heat.
How come they didn’t get hurt? Because God was with them. And where God is, there is protection and favor. And He makes sure that we get out of the furnace. He makes sure that we survive the trial. He makes sure that we overcome, for He has overcome.
Didn’t God say this in Isaiah 43:2? “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.”
So we need not fear. For God is not a stranger to our sufferings. He knows the pain. He knows the struggle. He knows it all. May we find comfort in the truth that even though we are in different furnaces of testing, God is our Immanuel. He is with us. He never leaves. He never watches from afar. He is near. He is here. And that’s a promise.