walking through the fire
Yesterday was a really rough one. Mentally. Cory was working. I got the kids ready and took them both to school. In the car on the way home from dropping Will off it hit me. Like a brick wall. I was/am scared to death of the final pathology showing that my cyst is cancerous. I am scared at the thought that the cancer is back. I texted a couple of friends and just asked them to start praying. Then I cried. A lot. I cried out to the Lord for Him to comfort me. I told him I was scared (like he didn’t already know). Who am I kidding?
One of my dear friends and mentor called me and shared with me this story in the bible. We talked through this and a few other thought-provoking questions trying to get to the root of how I was feeling. If you grew up in church, you have heard this story, like me, a thousand times. I can retell it and quickly skim through it. But for this particular time, when we read through two verses, I was struck by an amazing faith displayed by these men involved.
Let’s look at Daniel, chapter 3, verses 16-18. This story takes place during the rule of King Nebuchandnezzar in Babylon. He thought of himself as a god and had a gold statue built and ordered everyone to worship this statue. These verses tell what happened when Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (three Jewish men who loved the Lord) wouldn’t worship the king’s god. He told them if they would worship the statue he would spare their lives, but if they refused, he would throw them into a blazing furnace. He would throw them to their death. So he thought. Here's the story in Daniel 3...
“16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. 17 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. 18 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.”
These three men were pressured to turn against their one and only God, but they didn’t give in. So they were thrown into the fire by the king’s men. Then read here what happens next…
24 But suddenly, Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in amazement and exclaimed to his advisers, “Didn’t we tie up three men and throw them into the furnace?”
“Yes, Your Majesty, we certainly did,” they replied.
25 “Look!” Nebuchadnezzar shouted. “I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire unharmed! And the fourth looks like a god[a]!”
26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came as close as he could to the door of the flaming furnace and shouted: “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!”
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!
28 Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent his angel to rescue his servants who trusted in him. They defied the king’s command and were willing to die rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.
God rescued them from the fire. He protected them from their enemies. The men were faithful to God the entire time. They had a faith that is described in Hebrews, a faith that doesn’t waver during times of difficulty (Hebrews 10:23). Verse 28 hit me right in the forehead this morning as I was rereading this story. They were willing to die rather than to serve or worship any god except their own God. They were willing to die. Ugh. Fear of death, even as a believer in Jesus, is something I have struggled with my whole life. Having cancer has forced me to confront this fear. I have been a slave to fear my whole life. The beginning of my journey I struggled with believing God would heal me. He has graciously walked me through that and continues to every single day. Lately my struggle has not been in that can he, but will he? So when I read these verses and I see what these men say, it hits me deep in my core. Even if he doesn't... Even if he doesn't heal me... Ugh. That's really hard for me to swallow. I can not say will full confidence I would trust Him. Sadly, because I am still allowing fear to rule my mind. I am still serving the spirit of fear, giving it power over my life.
Can any of you relate? What is it that you are a slave to? What is it that paralyzes you and stops you in your tracks?
Well, there is hope for us all. As believers in Jesus, we are no longer slaves to anything. This verse here says it perfectly….
When we accept Jesus as our Savior, the Holy Spirit lives in us. Just as this verse says, the Spirit does not make us slaves. The spirit of fear does not come from the Lord (2 Timothy 1:7). I do not ever have to serve the spirit of fear again. It has no hold on me because of what Jesus did for me on the cross. So, the good news is that if you are also a believer in Jesus, you do not either. Why? The verse continues to say…. Because as believers, we are adopted sons and daughters of the Lord. He has adopted us into his family and we are made right in his image through the blood and sacrifice of his son. Whew! A lot to swallow. If you are not a believer, I would love more than anything to share his truth with you.
I have thought through these verses over and over again since yesterday. What implications do these words have in my life? They aren't to shame me or make me feel guilty for not believing the Lord. That's what the enemy would want us to believe. They free me up to live confidently in my daily walk. It doesn’t mean my walk will be easy, but it does mean that I can be confident in what my God can do. Just as those three Jewish men thousands of years ago. I long to have that confidence they have. I pray that the Lord will give me that. I pray that I can sit there today in Dr. Oh’s office and be confident in the Lord no matter what he tells me. That even IF he tells me I have cancer again, I will claim victory over it. Now, don’t be fooled. Just because I am saying that out loud doesn’t mean that I fully believe it. That is the biggest area in my life that I need to surrender completely and allow the Holy Spirit to transform my life. But I have taken that step. That’s all he asks us to do. Lean into Him. He doesn’t want me to fall back into my comfortable old ways of worrying. That’s what is easy to do. But, he does want me to walk confidently into the fire boldly proclaiming victory in the one and only God that will protect me. Why? Because I am His. He knows me better than I know myself. He chose me long ago before the world was made.
4 Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. 5 God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. (Ephesians 1:4-5)
One question I was asked to contemplate yesterday was this…
If God doesn’t heal me or if he allows me to have cancer again, then God will ????
I couldn’t answer that yesterday. So today, I sat here and searched for answers. Thankfully the bible is full of them.
So today when I go to my doctor’s appointment .... no matter what I find out…
1) Be my rock, my refuge, my place to run to (Psalm 62:6)
2) Rescue me from death (Psalm 68:20)
3) Be my hope (Psalm 71:5, Psalm 119:114)
4) Restore me to life and life me up from beneath my burdens (Psalm 71:20)
5) Be my shelter (Psalm 73:28)
6) Perform miracles (Psalm 86:10)
7) Protect my life (Psalm 97:10)
8) Heal my disease (Psalm 103:3)
9) Humble my enemies (Psalm 110:1)
10) Remember me (Psalm 115:12)
11) Be my help (Psalm 121:2)
12) Encourage me (Psalm 138:3)
13) Life me up (Psalm 145:15, 146:8)
14) Restore my soul (Psalm 23:3)
These are truths that are not only for my life, but for yours. What are you a slave to? The first thing you need to do is admit to it. Then bring that to the Lord and confess it. He already knows you struggle with whatever it is. In the moment you recognize it and ask him for help, the Holy Spirit will step in and move mountains. He will transform your heart, just like he is mine. He will continue to refine us to make us more and more like his Son. If you have time, this sermon is amazing. Matt Chandler preaching on fear and anxiety and what the bible says we should do about it. Life changing!
“The Lord will fight for you, you only need to be still.” Exodus 14:14
“For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” 2 Chronicles 20:15b
We should find comfort in that. We have a defender, a protector, a place we can run to. Now let us all run, Let us run with all we have towards the One who made us and loves us more than anyone here on earth ever could.
Lord, may you deliver us from our fears. Thank you for delivering us so that we will no longer be slaves to anything. Lord, thank you that we have freedom in YOU.
Jesus, this is all for you.
All my love,