What is faith? That’s one of those deeply philosophical questions like, “What is the meaning of life?” or “What is true?” And there’s a way of approaching those questions that can seem completely removed from daily life or from understanding what is true or maybe even from staying awake. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for deep and impactful conversations, but you know what I’m talking about–the conversations that require more coffee than can be safely consumed in one sitting. That’s not what we’re after here.
So, what is faith? When we read Daniel 3, that should become a bold question, not a boring one. King Nebuchadnezzar’s declaration was bold–anyone who didn’t fall down and worship the golden image he made would be cast into a burning fiery furnace. There were no exceptions or exemptions. And that means that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego made a bold choice by refusing to bow, setting their appointment with the fiery furnace. That decision was not made in ignorance or confusion. It was made in faith–a faith expressed in their answer to Nebuchadnezzar in verses 16-18. First, they believed that there was a higher authority than the King of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar promised life if they would submit to his decree, but as he would learn, life was not his to give or to take. Second, they believed that God was able to deliver them safely from the burning fiery furnace they faced. And Third, they believed that God’s action in this one moment of their lives–or even their deaths if it came to that–would not change His eternal character as the only God worthy of their worship. They trusted that God would ultimately work for their good and for His glory–which He did.
What is faith? It is complete and total trust in someone, and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego show us what it looks like. Faith is trusting that God is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do. Faith is trusting that even if I don’t see it or feel it right this second, God is still at work. I don’t know what challenges you’re going to face today. I don’t even know the challenges I’m going to face today, let alone how or if they’re going to be resolved in the short-term. But what we do know is that God is the only King who lives forever and that He is able to deliver us no matter what we face. We know that He didn’t leave Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego alone in the fiery furnace. And we know that even with all our challenges, He hasn’t left us. So, here we are today, believing that God can do the very best thing that our finite minds can imagine and trusting that if He doesn’t, His way will be better.