Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”  Dan. 3:16-18

     Dear heavenly Father, I’m impressed, convicted, and encouraged by the faith of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These three friends didn’t worship you because of the gifts you give, but because of the God you are.

     They were firmly convinced that you could rescue them from the fiery furnace, but even if you didn’t, it wouldn’t impact their love for you one bit. They’d rather be delivered into your presence through the fire, than worship some other false god just to escape the fire.

     Father, forgive me when my worship varies in response to my perceptions of how well and quick you answer my prayers. As cynical as I am about the “name it and claim it” and prosperity theologies, I’m quite capable of doubting your love when life gets complicated and painful. I want to worship you before there’s a fire, when I’m in the fire, when the fire’s extinguished, or if you should choose to take me home through the fire.

     Lord Jesus, only you can give me such freedom and love for God. You’re not only the fourth man King Nebuchadnezzar saw walking around in the fiery furnace (Daniel 3:25), you’re the one who endured the fiery trial of the cross for us. Even as you purchased us with your blood, you stay present with us by your Spirit, in every season of life—no matter the temptation, trial, or trauma. Life may not be pain free for us, but it’ll never be Christ absent. Hallelujah, many times over.

     Because of you, Jesus, we don’t have to be afraid to die, and we don’t have to be afraid to live. May your beauty and grace be increasingly compelling to us. So very Amen we pray, in your peerless and powerful name.