A Refiner's Fire
Daniel 2:16 - Daniel 5:12
Do you remember the well known story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego?
King Nebuchadnezzar established a new law in the land that required the citizens of Babylon to bow down and worship the golden image he set up. It comes as no surprise to any of us that these faithful friends of Daniel refused to turn their back on their God.
In his rage, the king called in and questioned the three Hebrew boys. He demanded that they bow down to his idols or face immediate death in his furnaces. One of them voiced the expression of all three hearts, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18, emphasis added).
This has got to be one of the most courageous statements in all of scripture. With boldness, they told the king and anyone else listening that they knew that God could deliver them from the fire. He could do anything He wanted to—and maybe He would. But if not—if His will was to let them face death—they still would not worship the gods of Nebuchadnezzar.
The Lord allowed the king to attempt to force these valiant youth into certain death. In this case they were not immediately delivered from a literal refiner’s fire.
Several years ago I found myself in the lowest days of my life so far. I hit rock bottom physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I realize that there are others who have had it worse than I did, and sometimes I feel foolish to say what trial constitutes my hardest days, but all comparisons set aside, I really experienced some dark, sad moments.
A refiner's fire.
There is reason to believe that God does in fact have the ability and desire to deliver us from the pain these moments might cause. He is the Creator of worlds without number. The great God of heaven who could have delivered Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego from the fire could also deliver you and I from heartache, trouble and despair or any other of life’s tests of faith. But that isn’t always what takes place. The message from these great young men is that God might have the ability to deliver us from affliction, “but if not,” we must still trust Him.
One of the most powerful moments in this episode happened in the moment when the boys were in the midst of the fires. After being thrust in, each boy fell down into the scalding ash—I wonder if they were kneeling?
“Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king.
He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.” (Daniel 3:24-25).
The story of these three boys stands as an everlasting testimony that the Savior will stand by those who stand true to Him—always. In every trial. He was not involved in this story as a heavenly spectator, but rather as a participant. I love how this story so clearly teaches the loving truth that in the middle of the burning tests of life, there is a fourth man walking in the midst of the fire.
Perhaps each of us experiences the refiner’s fire for just one reason ––to come to know the Refiner. And through the proving process, to understand that Christ is always there. In the darkest hours of the night and the longest hours of the day, He is there.
In the hours of suffering perhaps the greatest comfort comes in the realization that we are not alone. Christ has said, “Ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions” (Mosiah 24:14)
Whether Christ delivers us before we face our trials, in the very midst of our trials, or after we have passed through them, He always delivers. We must remember that in the beginning, middle, and end of every fire we pass through ...Christ is there.
It was in the middle of a dark night when this truth sank deep into my heart.
It was not only that He understood my pain, but that He was with me during it. All of it. I realized then that I will never know what it is like to be alone. It is comforting to me to realize that because Christ faced Gethsemane totally alone, no one else would ever have to. Ever.
In the midst of your refiner’s fire perhaps you might remember the promise spoken by Heber J. Grant,
“The Lord will be always near you. He will comfort you; you will feel His presence in the hour of your greatest tribulation.” (Conference Report April 1942.)