God’s been teaching me about His goodness through the faith of Shadrach, Meschach, and Abed-Nego in Daniel 3. King Nebuchadnezzar made this massive statue out of gold that was about 900 feet (~274 m) tall and 9 feet (~2.7 m) wide (Bible Study Tools, Daniel 3:1). There was a dedication ceremony, and everyone was commanded to bow down and worship the statue, but Shadrach, Meschach, and Abed-Nego did not worship the statue or the gods of King Nebuchadnezzar, as God had commanded them (Exodus 20:4-6).
King Nebuchadnezzar was angry and said:
“But if you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?” (Daniel 3:15).
“O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up” (Daniel 3:16-18).
Two things stand out to me from their response:
1. “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us… and He will deliver us…” They recognized the power of God that was able to rescue them from the fiery furnace, and they fully believed in God.
2. “But if not…” Even if God didn’t save them from the fiery furnace, they still resolved to trust in Him.
In the end, God saved them and was glorified through their faith. I highly recommend reading the entirety Daniel 3 for context, as there are a number of other aspects not discussed here.
In previous readings of this passage, I focused on the power of God in this situation. There’s nothing wrong with that, as His power is clearly demonstrated through the miraculous rescue of these men. But, the reality is, sometimes God’s plans include hardships, death, sorrow, etc. This story, and others like it in the Bible, somewhat troubled me because I couldn’t, or wouldn’t, see past the happy ending.
This story has an obvious happy ending, but we also see that these men’s faith was independent of the outcome. This got me thinking. How can they trust God, without knowing if He’ll actually save them or not?
After much thought, prayer, and study of the Bible, I realized that I learned quite a bit about His goodness but still don’t know how to recognize it in my life. That’s an area in which I’m seeking to grow, and you will probably see more about that in a future post. For now, here’s what I’ve learning about His goodness.
God loves me and cares about my story, as is so evident throughout the Bible, but He is so much bigger than my individual narrative. My circumstances don’t dictate His goodness, and it would be pretty self-centered to think they did. The very character and nature of God is good. My interpretation of my circumstances and my lack of faith in His plan don’t change the fact that He is good. He is good when there’s a happy ending, and He’s still good when there isn’t.
Just going to stick these lyrics here, because they tie in really well.
But God, when You choose
To leave mountains unmovable
Oh, give me the strength to be able to sing
“It is well with my soul”
I know You’re able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone
What are your thoughts on this passage and this topic? While I’ve put a lot of thought, prayer, and study into this, I know there’s still much room for personal growth in this area. Input and constructive feedback would be much appreciated!