“They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.” Daniel 3:27b NIV
Until moving to Illinois a few years ago, I had only known fire in tiki-torches, or fireplaces. I was in my forty’s the first time I sat around an open fire and warmed myself. My husband and I both loved doing so, and bought our own tiny fire pit. Whenever we got the chance we would sit outside and watch the fire jump and crack. This may sound ridiculous to Northerners, but I had no idea that sitting near a fire deposited a really strong smell on a person. Like, everything you were wearing has to be washed immediately, especially your hair and body! The first few times I sat by the fire I wore my nice wool coat, and subsequently walked around for weeks smelling like roasted wood. Fire has a very distinct odor!
The story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego has always been one of my favorites in the old testament because there are so many facets of Faith that are exhibited in those passages. I could spend all day re-reading their pre-punishment pronouncement: ” 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 thine hand, O king. BUT IF NOT, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve they gods.” (Daniel 3:17-18 KJV) I love that so much, because they acknowledge that he might not choose to rescue them, but they want to make sure the record shows that even as they burn to ashes they will be firm, confident believers in his power to rescue!
Recently my mind began to dwell on the very last part of their story, when they were brought back out of the fiery furnace. The king, who was immediately transformed into a believer of the most high God, marveled at their condition. The report says “…upon 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. ” Daniel 3:27, KJV
the Bible informs all believers that we will be put through fire. 1 Peter talks about how gold is purified through fire, and our faith, which is much more valuable than gold, will also be proven through fiery trials and distress. Fire comes to all who believe. And if we, like the three boys, are courageous enough to withstand the test with our faith in tact, it will be purified and proven, and become something much more precious than gold. I love how the message explains the point of proven faith in 1 Peter 1:7 “It’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of His victory.”
Although each of you reading this have experienced a very unique journey with your special needs child, I know that we have the shared testimony of the very hot fire known as a scary diagnosis, continued and new daily challenges, and a looming uncertain future. This is a particular fire that we have been thrust into, yet our challenge is the same as those three boys. The fire wasn’t doused before they hit it, nor was the heat removed. They walked around, in the fire, unharmed and accompanied by the presence of another. As a matter of fact, it was the presence of someone else who caused the King to reverse his plans and have them pulled out of the fire. When the presence of God is with you in the midst of the fire, you can survive it!! But survival isn’t enough – you can have been in the fire, without even smelling like smoke!
We’ve all seen what it’s like when someone still carries around the lingering residue of whatever trial they walked through. It may have been last year or last decade, but they drag around the singed clothing and the strong smell of fire wherever they go. That isn’t victory, there’s no purification of faith there. It’s actually a very prideful position, to wear a “Badge of honor” that proclaims to everyone what they have had to deal with, what they’re still dealing with, and how hard it is. The three boys had not a shred of evidence to show for their trouble, and that is how God got the glory. Had they limped out with burned skin, or clawed their way up the walls it might have seemed much more heroic, but would not have carried the life-changing testimony that resulted in the King’s conversion.
Our challenge from this story is two-fold: First, to set our minds on that fact that no matter how hot the fire, or how long it burns, we are convinced that our God is for us and can rescue us, He will be with us in the fire. Second, to renew our minds daily so that our attitude, our words and our hearts are un-singed, and we aren’t carrying around the smell of smoke wherever we go. Our testimony should be that people are as shocked as the King was, when they know we have a child with special needs. That will be the “evidence of His victory”.