Glory in the Fire - March 4, 2020
Written By: Matt Northway
It seems that when I ask any of my peers how they are doing, there hardly remains an answer that excludes the words, “tired” or “busy”. Whether it be school, work, extracurricular activities, summer planning, or simply our day to day lives, we all have tension pulling from every which direction. This doesn’t even include the tension we face, as believers in Jesus, with the temptation of sin as we continue along this seemingly long and dreadful road of sanctification. Sanctification is briefly summed up as the process of becoming more and more like Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. So, what do we do? Where or who do we look to? Why do we suffer? How is God being glorified in my suffering during my time on earth? I won’t be able to directly answer this all, but I hope and pray that I will be able to clearly explain and share what I have learned during my own devotion, reading, and studying while pointing you towards Jesus.
As Pat mentioned in the message, we are caught between worlds as believers, feeling the constant tension between our flesh and the world with our spirit and living a God-honoring life, as Paul so very well describes in Romans 7:19 (see also v. 7-25). We desire to do good, but we can’t seem to carry it out. Brothers and sisters welcome to the Christian life and the process of sanctification. It is an ongoing process that will occur until the day we die (1 Thessalonians 5:23). Throughout this endeavor, you will still fall short of the glory of God. We cannot escape this world we are in nor can we escape our sinful nature, but is this not how God meant for it to be? We will fail, but “thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 7:25) that He is faithful as He delivers us from these mortal bodies into an eternity with Him. It’s in the failures and shortcomings that we are made aware of our own inabilities as we are drawn to Him as our source of hope, truth, and life. In the meantime, before we meet Him face-to-face, let us glorify Him in our suffering by showing the world and those around us who we turn to in times of hardship as we speak the truth about who He is.
I would like to take you to the book of Daniel to a story many of you know oh so well. In chapter three we read the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refusing to worship another god besides the one true God. In doing so, they face a vast rain of human authority, being bound up and thrown into a fiery furnace. To King Nebuchadnezzar’s surprise, the three men came into focus despite the flames along with an additional figure joining them as they were then removed from the furnace unscathed. This is an immense display of God’s glory, power, and might in the midst of the distress of His people. Another fact is that this passage was a fulfillment of a promise from the Lord in Isaiah 43:2, which I highly encourage you to go read along with any other passages I reference; after all, scripture has the higher authority here over my own words. Back to the story; I want to point out to you that God’s glory and power were not shown until the three men were in the fire. God could have shown up before they were thrown into the furnace. Imagine if Jesus or an angel came down from heaven and killed Nebuchadnezzar and his men and released Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, saving the day. But no, the Lord allowed them to be placed into the fiery furnace. The result? God’s mighty hand of protection is shown which leads to King Nebuchadnezzar giving God glory and having his nation do the same.
The fact of the matter is this; that God is glorified in our hardships, but in order for that to happen, sometimes we need to be placed into the fire.
Ok Matt, how do we know that God is being glorified in our hardship and how do we know He is in control? I think there are plenty of places to go in the Bible to affirm His authority, control, and supremacy, such as the verse I would like to share with you. Hebrews 2:8-9 says, “Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. 9 But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.”
There are two points I want to make of this brief passage. One, notice how for Jesus to be crowned with glory and honor, He succumbed to suffering, to the point of death. Should we not do the same? Should we, by rejoicing in our sufferings while on this earth, know that in our suffering Christ is made known, as well as our inheritance being added upon in heaven when we persevere? I think so. Second, I want you to notice the beginning of verse 9. “But we see him”. Even while we might not fully see all that He is in control of and while we can’t grasp His presence in all things, we see Jesus. And that, brothers and sisters, is enough. We need to seek Jesus and have a heavenward mindset, knowing that He is in all, He is all, and that we have final peace and fulfillment in Him when we see His face when it will all make sense. Know that we were created for such a time as this in this broken world to grow in Him. During our time here, we are between worlds; stuck in our sinful nature and the realities of this broken world, but we have Jesus who is the ultimate sustainer until His work in us is complete; and that, is enough.