Posted January 27, 2012
At times we endure trials so difficult we wonder how we'll come through it. The Bible offers two powerful examples of ordinary people placed in extraordinarily difficult circumstances. Both stories show that God will stand right by us when we place Him first.
Christians were designed by God to endure and spiritually prosper from life's trials. However, our loving heavenly Father and elder brother Jesus Christ want us to know that as we face the challenges of life we don't do so alone. "I will never leave you nor forsake you" (Hebrews:13:5). Let's examine two accounts, from the Scriptures, that will give us the comforting reassurance that God and Jesus Christ will "never leave us nor forsake us."
Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego
The first example is found in the book of Daniel. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon was ruler over one of the greatest empires in world history. Nebuchadnezzar felt the need to unify the various peoples in his empire that stretched from Babylon to Egypt. To unify these various cultures and peoples, he decided that a state religion was needed. He erected a huge statue that the people could worship as the symbol of his wondrous empire. Any person who would not worship that image was to die in a fiery furnace (Daniel:3:1-11).
However, three young men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego, who had been taken captive from their homeland of Judah, refused to worship the image. They were to face a literal fiery trial (Daniel:3:12-15). The three young men spoke with one voice—they were placing their faith in the true God and would submit to His will and not that of King Nebuchadnezzar. If God wanted to intervene and spare them, so be it; if not, and God allowed them to die, they would submit to the will of God through this trial (Daniel:3:16-18).
Enraged at the lack of submission of these three foreigners, King Nebuchadnezzar had the fiery furnace heated seven times hotter than normal. He was determined to set an example of these young men (Daniel:3:19-24).
Salvation From the Fiery Furnace
Note how God allowed these faithful young men to be put to the test, to be made to endure the full measure of the trial—but also notice something that should encourage each of us as we face our "fiery trials."
When in the midst of the burning fiery furnace it was noted that the three young men were not alone as they faced the trial of their lives! Nebuchadnezzar exclaimed, "I see four men walking about unbound and unharmed in the fire and the fourth looks like a divine being"(Daniel:3:25, Tanakh version).
What was the result of this trial? King Nebuchadnezzar recognized that it was the true God, the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego, who had done this mighty feat. The great God of the universe was then magnified by decree throughout the empire and the three young men were then promoted (Daniel:3:26-30).
Stephen's Heroic Stand for God
In the pages of the New Testament we have another story of a man facing the trial of his life but doing so with Jesus Christ standing shoulder to shoulder with him. We find this example in Acts 6-7.
Stephen was a man of God mighty in the Scriptures. So much so that the unbelieving Jews could not refute him (Acts:6:10). In his speech before the Jewish Sanhedrin, Stephen accused those Jewish leaders of rejecting God's ways as their forefathers had (Acts:6:12-7:53).
As King Nebuchadnezzar was enraged at Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego, the Jews of the Sanhedrin were enraged at Stephen (Acts:7:54). In this case God allowed Stephen not to be rescued as were Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego. Stephen gave his life in martyrdom.
Note what happens next in the story of Stephen. To encourage him, God allows Stephen to see a vision of heaven, the glory of God, and note—Jesus Christ standing at the right hand of God (Acts:7:55-56)!
We humans are inspired and moved by what we "see." Stephen was allowed to "see," in vision, the glory of God, which he knew he would experience at the time of his resurrection. He was also moved be "seeing" Jesus Christ fully engaged and standing with him during the moment of his greatest need!
Truly, these two stories illustrate the simple yet powerful fact that God the Father and Jesus Christ, our Elder Brother, will "never leave us nor forsake us."
For further food for thought on this topic please write for our publication "Why Does God Allow Suffering? "