You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Isaiah 26:3 (NIV)
In Daniel chapter 3 we encounter three men with extraordinary faith. A faith that reaches far beyond mere religion. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were told to bow down to an idol. (Isn’t most of the world beckoning us all to do the same in some form or another?!) These three men show great confidence in the one true God, as they declare to the king…
“O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. 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. 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.” Daniel 3:16-18 (NLT)
As this picture plays out in our mind we might see ourselves giving a standing ovation for the good guys victory. “Yea! They stood up to the mean guy!” Yet as we wait for the the curtain to fall, to our surprise the film continues to roll… downhill! Maybe you’ve been there, responding faithfully in a hard circumstance only to find things going as you least expected. Instead of going right everything goes left! Rather than cool down, the situation for these three men begins to heat up (literally)! The king does not back down to these three’s courageousness. As his temper roars so does he order the flames of the furnace to roar seven times hotter!!
If God always rescued His faithful servants from all suffering the way they planned, no faith would be needed; simple religion would be all the insurance any of us humans would need. If we check all the right boxes, we get all that we want right? – Wrong. Genuine faith worships God even if He doesn’t work according to our plan because He is worth it. The reward in heaven for all God’s faithful servants will far out weigh any temporary suffering we have been asked to endure this side of heaven. The promise is that we will arrive safely in His Kingdom. We may cannon ball in, but we will nail the landing, not even smelling like smoke!
Keeping the faith requires intentionally shifting our minds from the suffering of our situation to sustaining eternal Truth. This mind shift is not easy. We can think of it like a beautiful pearl that begins as an irritating grain of sand. The initial rubbing the clam does over the sand is harsh but as it endures the suffering, and continues to shift over it, the irritation is transformed.
Romans 12:2 (NIV) Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Remember, the enemy is the ruler of lies, not the ruler of your thoughts. We can take captive our thoughts and make them obedient to Truth. Sift out the “sand” you don’t need and the “grains” that God has said must remain… choose to shift your mind over until the joy of your salvation is made complete. For Jesus rose from the grave, He is the resurrection and the life! The one who believes in Him will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in Him will never die! Do you believe this? (John 11:25-26)
Don’t give up in the “sand” dear one, keep sifting and shifting, and you will make it safely Home.