Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
We all know the story from our Sunday School days: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refuse to bow down to Nebuchadnezzar even though the penalty for their faithfulness is a red hot fiery furnace. This well-known story is today's Old Testament reading (Daniel 3:1-30).
I continue to be amazed at the trio's faithful response:
"O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this 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. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up" (16b-18).
Another prophet would remind his readers of the protection God provided these three when he wrote: "when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you" (Isaiah 43:2).
So what does this have to do with the Christian family?
First of all, a faithful response was, and is, possible because of the promised protection of God himself. A family that is grounded in His Word of promise, of comfort, and of a hope yet to come, will be able to stand strong against the difficulties of this age. A Christian family that prays together, studies the word together, and worships together will have God's promises in Christ Jesus on their minds, day and night. And by His Word, God provides a fortress for the Christian family, protecting it from all fronts.
But even more that that, we learn well from Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to hope in the final resurrection. The did not know if they would be rescued from the fire, and yet, they knew that they would be rescued. Faithful Christians like them have held on to this hope as well. Job confessed that "I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God" (Job 19:25-26).
This is all to say, like the faithful trio that went faithfully into the fiery furnace, the Christian family that hopes in Christ Jesus, has the assurance that no matter what befalls it, they will stand with Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego on the last day, and there too will be Job and all the faithful, beholding Jesus Christ with their very own eyes. For just as Christ was with them in the fiery furnace, so too, he is with the Christian family through thick and thin. Amen.