The fourth verse of “How Firm a Foundation” reminds us of our Lord’s promise:
“When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie, my grace, all-sufficient, shall be thy supply; the flame shall not hurt thee, I only design, thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.”
This reminds us of Daniel’s furnace story and the apostle Peter’s exhortation that presents the Christian life as a fiery furnace that refines gold (Daniel 3; 1 Peter 1:6-7).
We’re presently going through Daniel in our small groups so that we will have courage to live for the Lord through the heat of life. In Daniel 3, the story points us to the promise of our Savior who said that he would never leave us nor forsake us, and that includes the furnace of life. In fact, the fiery furnace of the Hebrew children is a picture of the entire life of the Christian. When we turned to the Lord we invited the scourge of the world and the refinement of Christ. And this heat that is upon us will not end until we are finally at home with our Lord, unscathed from what the world attempted to do – to wrestle our faith away from the Lord. I want to share with you 10 things to believe while you are in the furnace.
1. First, believe that the entire Christian life is like gold refined in a furnace. Though our lives are supplied with much tranquility and pleasant times, the whole of it is best described like heat that wicks out the impurities from gold. The furnace of Daniel 3 is a metaphor for your entire life with Christ.
2. Believe that the furnace is ordained – it’s not an accident or random chink in your life – Daniel 1:2.
3. Believe that every furnace is different for each child of God. Our Lord said to take up “your” cross and follow him. Your cross will not look like any other – your’s is tailor-made for you, and you alone. One child of God will endure multiple cancer episodes his entire life while his brother in Christ beside him will have splendid health, but fight against pride, self-assurance, and self-reliance as he knocks down 400k per year.
4. But believe also that every furnace has the same goal – to be conformed to the image of Christ and to “approve”, that is, test your faith – 1 Peter 1:12; 4:12ff. This also means that you are not alone as if you’re the only one struggling with cancer, or pride, or endless bureaucracy with lawyers, doctors, and health-care.
5. Believe that every furnace has an end – your suffering will not be forever. In fact, it is very short-lived compared with the joy and peace and vitality of life that awaits you – Daniel 3:27.
6. This is like #3 above but a littler broader. Believe that God loves you even though your furnace is hotter than others. This will help you to not envy those whose furnaces are a little cooler than yours. If your life seems to be more difficult than others, you must believe that God is not more upset with you than with others; you must believe that he knows what is the right temperature to purify you; you must believe that he is keeping you from bowing down to false gods; and you must believe that has the right to treat you differently than his other children.
7. Believe that it is better to be nearly alone in the furnace with the Lord and a few close friends, than to have the world’s red carpet under your feet – Daniel 3:23-25. Remember, King Neb could not keep his men from dying, while the Lord kept his alive.
8. Believe that the injustices of the furnace, though ordained of the Lord (just like the wicked crucifixion of Jesus) – will one day get their just due. For all the harm that you have endured from people – the lies, the manipulation, the back-stabbing, the slander, the passivity and indifference, not one single injustice will remain unsettled. All will be made right in the end – Daniel 3:29-30. (as a footnote: Keep in mind that the unbelievers and wicked of this world are having the best times that they will ever have. Yes, long for justice from the Lord, but do not gleefully anticipate the eternal ruin and punishment of the lost).
9. Believe that Jesus died alone and abandoned in his furnace so that you might live through yours – Matt. 27:46. You were miraculously saved because Jesus wasn’t.
10. Believe that God loves you if you love his Son(John 8:42) . Do you love his Son for what he has done for you on the cross to take away your sins? Then know this: there will come a day when you will compare your eternal joy with your furnace, and say, “For it [the furnace] was a light [marsh-mellow] and momentary [poof] affliction compared with this eternal Holiday at the Sea.