Thursday, July 23, 2009

Reflections for July 23, 2009

"Trials Can Be Learning Experiences"

During a difficult time in my ministry, I slipped away to a special place for a day of fasting, prayer and reflecting. In the chapel where I was praying I found an old paper back book. I can not remember the title but I can remember the portion that spoke to my heart. It was a chapter devoted to the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego.

The account of these three men’s ordeal can be found in Daniel 3:16-30. As you continue to read, I suggest you open your Bible and read the story for yourself. Prior to these verses the king had issued a degree that required everyone to bow down and worship the idol he had made. These three brave young men refused to obey. When threatened with the horror of being cast into a fiery furnace, they chose to place their trust in God and to refuse to bow to the man made idol (Daniel 6:16-18).

Their refusal left the king with no choice but to throw them into the furnace. He had them bound and thrown into the fire (Daniel 6:19-23). As the king gazed through the fiery blaze, he was astounded the men had been freed from their bindings and were walking about in the flames. Even more, astounding there was a fourth figure in the fire with them (Daniel 3:24, 25). Some believe this was the preincarnate Christ. At the very least it was a heavenly being sent to comfort these men in the middle of their crisis.

Nebuchadnezzar was so moved by the experience he responded by giving glory to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego and threatening all who would speak against their God with an unimaginable punishment (Daniel 3:28, 29). He, then, caused the young men to prosper in the province of Babylon (Daniel 3:30).

There are four things this story teaches me. One, doing the right things can sometimes bring trials into our lives. Two, God is never nearer than when His children are in the midst of trials. Three, our obedience to God in the midst of trials is one way for us to honor and glorify Him. Four, in due season, God always rewards the faithfulness of His children, either in this life or the next.

I went home that evening with no resolution to the trials I was experiencing but with a confidence that God was with me in the midst of them and that He would ultimately deliver me. My expectations that day have not gone unfulfilled. God did deliver me and He has blessed me indeed.

As your read this short reflection, if you are in the middle of a trial in your life, remember, trials are opportunities for us to meet God in the most personal way. It is an opportunity for us to prove the truth of the words of the psalmist: “The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and His ears are open to their cry … The righteous cry and the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm34:15, 17, and 18).

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