“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.”2
I was just sharing with those closest to me, how often I’ve failed; any of you who’ve said the same words know what I’m talking about. I use to despise failure. I viewed it as a reflection of who I was, not an inability to accomplish something. I use to think it would be better to never fail; just have a string of successes. This was because I wanted others to look favorably upon me.
I never looked at failure as success.
I never recognized the purpose of being tested. Because of this, I never considered testing a good thing.
Oh but things are different now baby! I’m a new creation in Christ:
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”3
I’m in agreement with God because I take joy now when I’m tried. I consider it an opportunity not only for spiritual growth and development, but it’s also an opportunity for God to prove Himself to me. When I say, “It’s an opportunity for God to prove Himself to me”, I really mean through me. I believe God provides me with opportunities to consider it an occasion to rejoice that God and I will partner, demonstrating, He is God of my life. I realize now that this occurs even when I fail, He is still God.
Most of us love to hear about success. Failure? Not so much. I’ve read this passage in Daniel numerous times (as I’m sure many others have too), but I’ve learned something which has evaded me until now.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego didn’t care about the outcome of their decision; they were fully committed to their decision.
I don’t mean to say they didn’t want God to save them from the fiery death they were threatened with; yes, they wanted to be spared that kind of death. But they understood that the decision to save them was in God’s hands, not their own. They yielded their decision-making to God.
They could have given out to the threat of death. They could have given in to king Nebuchadnezzar. They could have given up on God.
But they didn’t!
They determined that no matter what happened, they would trust in God for the outcome. We know what happens next, king Nebuchadnezzar becomes furious with their answer. He orders the furnace to be heated seven times hotter than normal, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were tied up and thrown into the blazing furnace. The furnace was so hot that the flames from the fire killed the soldiers who were ordered to throw them in.
I would imagine that the king felt pretty confident in himself, believing that these three had failed to make the right decision. That’s how many look at you when things go bad.
They say, “You’re a failure!”
There are those who never let you forget that you’re a failure; they like to remind you just in case you’ve forgotten. They remember you back when…
Nobody had ever stood up to this king before, and lived. He had that kind of power; he used his power of intimidation. But these men weren’t like all the Yes men the king was accustomed to standing before him. These men submitted to a higher authority than an earthly king.
They were obedient to God.
I have learned such strength of conviction from these three men. To be able to say, I know God can save me from this terrible ordeal but even if He doesn’t save me from this, I’m ready to go through it, that He, Almighty God may be exalted and praised!
This wasn’t just someone talking the talk, these men walked the talk.
So I know that God is no respecter of persons and when my opportunity comes, and it will surely come, I’m ready to walk the talk. I’m not being cavalier about this because trials aren’t a game. I know I can fail in my trial but God never fails. I’m trusting God.
I’m reminded of the actor in the Allstate insurance commercials. His booming voice evokes assurance, confidence and security when he says, “You’re in good hands with Allstate.”
But the God we worship doesn’t emulate assurance, confidence and security.
He is my assurance.
He is my confidence.
He is my security.
I’m going to shout for joy when I’m tried because my trials produce endurance in me, and that’s a good thing. It means that in time, my failures will become fewer and fewer.
It means, I’m not giving out to my trial.
It means, I’m not giving in to fear.
It means, I’m not giving up on God.
I’ll trust Him like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.
I’ll trust Him like Abraham when God told him to offer up his son on Mount Moriah, the place where Abraham would worship Jehovah Jireh.
I’ll trust Him like David standing before Goliath with a confidence that trusted in Immanuel, David knew, God is with me.
Can you trust God?
Don’t give out, don’t give in, and don’t give up on God.
He hasn’t given up on you.
Thank you for being the King of kings and Lord of lords. You are Jehovah Jireh, my provider. You are Immanuel, God with us. You've promised to never leave me or forsake me; I believe that Lord. When I face my trials, I will rejoice because I know you want to produce endurance in me. You want me to be confident that in You, I can go all the way. Like the song says, "No matter what tomorrow brings, I'm going all the way!" Thank You Jesus for giving me confidence in You. You conquered sin, death, hell, the grave and everything else. Every knee must bow to You the risen Saviour and Lord. I trust You Lord, You are my strength and shield. Amen.
- The NIV Study Bible, Edited by Kenneth Barker, Donald Burdick, John Stek, Walter Wessel and Ronald Youngblood, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530, USA
- The Ryrie Study Bible (New American Standard Version), Edited by Charles C. Ryrie, Moody Publishers, Chicago, Illinois, ISBN 0-8024-8920-6