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 Hebrews 13:5Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as you have: for he has said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you.
American King James Version×). 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 Daniel 3:1-11 1 Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was three score cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits: he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.
2 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to gather together the princes, the governors, and the captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.
3 Then the princes, the governors, and captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, were gathered together to the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
4 Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages,
5 That at what time you hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of music, you fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king has set up:
6 And whoever falls not down and worships shall the same hour be cast into the middle of a burning fiery furnace.
7 Therefore at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and all kinds of music, all the people, the nations, and the languages, fell down and worshipped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.
8 Why at that time certain Chaldeans came near, and accused the Jews.
9 They spoke and said to the king Nebuchadnezzar, O king, live for ever.
10 You, O king, have made a decree, that every man that shall hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of music, shall fall down and worship the golden image:
11 And whoever falls not down and worships, that he should be cast into the middle of a burning fiery furnace.
American King James Version×).
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 Daniel 3:12-15 12 There are certain Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; these men, O king, have not regarded you: they serve not your gods, nor worship the golden image which you have set up.
13 Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Then they brought these men before the king.
14 Nebuchadnezzar spoke and said to them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, do not you serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up?
15 Now if you be ready that at what time you hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of music, you fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if you worship not, you shall be cast the same hour into the middle of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?
American King James Version×). 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 Daniel 3:16-18 16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer you in this matter. 17 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 your hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods, nor worship the golden image which you have set up.
American King James Version×).
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 Daniel 3:19-24 19 Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: therefore he spoke, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated.
20 And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace.
21 Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments, and were cast into the middle of the burning fiery furnace.
22 Therefore because the king’s commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flames of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the middle of the burning fiery furnace.
24 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and rose up in haste, and spoke, and said to his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the middle of the fire? They answered and said to the king, True, O king.
American King James Version×).
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 Daniel 3:25He answered and said, See, I see four men loose, walking in the middle of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.
American King James Version×, 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 Daniel 3:26-30 26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spoke, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, you servants of the most high God, come forth, and come here. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth of the middle of the fire.
27 And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, on whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.
28 Then Nebuchadnezzar spoke, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God.
29 Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.
30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, in the province of Babylon.
American King James Version×).
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 Acts 6:10And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spoke.
American King James Version×). 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 Acts 6:12-7
American King James Version×:53).
As King Nebuchadnezzar was enraged at Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego, the Jews of the Sanhedrin were enraged at Stephen (Acts 7:54 Acts 7:54When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.
American King James Version×). 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 Acts 7:55-56 55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,
56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.
American King James Version×)!
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? “