24 November 2017

If You’re Going Through Hell, Keep Going

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego survive hell on earth

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery pit — who’s the fourth guy?

“If you are going through hell, keep going.”
– Sir Winston Churchill

When I’ve gone through tough times in my life, I’ve found it helpful to remind myself that the difficulty I’m in is only temporary. I know many of you are going through some unimaginably tough times right now. When we find ourselves in a fiery pit, it may seem that we are bound to stay there for eternity. That’s not the case of course; oftentimes what determines how long we’re in the flames are the things we think, feel and do.

Meet Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. 

The ultimate example of being in the flames took place during the captivity of the Hebrews in Babylon. The story is told in the first three chapters of the book of Daniel. After Daniel had interpreted a dream of King Nebuchadnezzar’s, the King was so impressed he appointed Daniel governor of Babylon. King Nebuchadnezzar also gave important posts to Daniel’s three friends: Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.

Later the King gave orders for a statue to be built; it was to be 90 feet high, nine feet wide, and made of solid gold. With great pomp and ceremony he commanded his officers, governors, captains and counselors to come and worship the statue as god. Only Daniel’s three friends refused.

When King Nebuchadnezzar learned that his order had been defied, he flew into a rage and demanded that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be brought before him. “If you do not worship as I tell you, I will have you thrown into the furnace and burned to death!”

They replied, “O 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 save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

Nebuchadnezzar had the furnace heated to seven times its usual heat (How would they have measured it back then?). Then the men, fully clothed, were thrown into the flames. To his astonishment, Nebuchadnezzar saw not only that the men were unharmed, but also that there was a fourth man in there with them. When the king called them out from the flames, everyone saw that not a hair was singed, not a thread of clothing was burnt. Nebuchadnezzar decreed that he and his people would worship only their God.

God delivers us while we are in the flames.

Chuck Hodges, senior pastor at Athens First UMC, describes this as more than a divine encounter. He says that sometimes God delivers us from the furnace, but other times he delivers us while we are in the furnace. Our goal is to avoid the flames, but God is right here with us while we are in the flames. Many believe that the fourth person in those flames with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego was the preincarnate Christ.

Charles Lindsey, a former member of JobSeekers, wrote to me: “God is always able – but sometimes does not remove the circumstances – and that should not alter our commitment to faith in God. The three men had no assurance of a physical rescue, but were solid in their spiritual health. That has always seemed to strike much more of a chord with me than biblical heroes that heard directly from God with a future promise.”

Never, never, never give up!

I opened this message with Churchill, and I will close with Churchill. On 29 October 1941, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill visited the Harrow School in Harrow, England to speak to the students. This became one of his most quoted speeches, due to distortions that evolved about what he said.

The myth is that Churchill stood before the students and said, “Never, never, never, never give up. Never give up. Never give up. Never give up.” The first time I heard the myth, it was only five words: “Never, never, never give up.” Then he sat down. (That would have been a great speech, by the way.)

In reality, he made a complete speech that included words similar to what are often quoted. Here’s the excerpt: “Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

Friends, never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.

You are in the midst of the flames right now, and Jesus in right by your side – just as he was with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. In spite of the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy, they claimed the ultimate power – the power of God almighty. The difference is in what you think, feel and do. Choose God, the ultimate source of encouragement and strength.

See this Friday at JobSeekers, where we never give in and never give up!

Copyright © 2017 / Dave O’Farrell / All Rights Reserved