It Isn't Hot in the Furnace
by Laura MacCorkle
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1:2-4, NIV
At the risk of sounding old, what I usually complain about these days is either how poor quality of sleep I got the night before or the state of the weather. Either or.
See? I’m officially old.
But today, a few weeks into the summer season, I feel like I have every right to complain about the heat. Because it is hot in my neck of the woods. Triple-digit hot, in fact. And we still have about ten weeks of summer left to go. Oy vey.
I had to laugh as I was lamenting the heat, because a song from my youth popped into my head. At the risk of sounding old again, I’ll just go right on ahead and share. If you grew up in the church in the ‘70s (and this was back when youth musicals were popular the first time around ... so take that, Glee), then you might remember the youth choir musical, It’s Cool in the Furnace.
The music was catchy, and the message was the story of Daniel, King Nebuchadnezzar and three fireproof amigos: Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. In fact, it’s hard not to snap my fingers while remembering some of the lyrics ...
It isn’t hot in the furnace, man
It isn’t hot in the furnace, man
It isn’t hot in the furnace
Man, this furnace is cool, cool, cool, cool
Yes, it’s cool ... ahhhh ... in the furnace, man ...
I just loved the words from this jazzy title song with a hook that got stuck in your head for days (and, in my case, years). But what did they really mean? How could the fiery furnace in which King Nebuchadnezzar threw Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego not have been hot?
“Look!” King Nebuchadnezzar said when peering into the furnace after binding and throwing the three of them in,” I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods” (Daniel 3:25).
Well, was it God or not? Who was with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the midst of the fire? Bible commentators believe it was the pre-incarnate Christ. And even though King Nebuchadnezzar did not know the son of God, he did recognize that this was someone supernatural.
That was some pretty powerful divine protection to say the least. Yes, it was extra crispy in that furnace (heated “seven times hotter than usual,” thank you very much to the king). But Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego’s faith didn’t waiver, and they were delivered.
Well, as I’ve been dealing with my own heat issues thanks to the weather this week, I have been doing what I can to protect myself. During the day, I keep the blinds closed and the drapes drawn. This helps to keep the heat out and the cool inside. It’s not perfect, but I am more insulated and it’s bearable.
Perhaps that’s a good analogy for you and me today, as we walk through fiery trials and land in life’s hot spots where we feel bound and about to get burned. What’s wonderful for us to remember when it feels “hot” like this, is that when we’re walking with the Lord we are protected and surrounded by the “peace that passes all understanding.”
And when we’re in the Word—and are living according to the guidelines and words of caution given to us there—we see that it isn’t so hot in “the furnace” after all in our lives. Because when you know the Lord, the power of his life-saving blood certainly makes it “cool.”
Intersecting Faith & Life: It may “feel” hot in the furnace of your life, but how do you “know” that it is cool? Isaiah 43:2 says: “When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned.” Meditate on this scripture and be reminded from God’s Word of who is walking with you and protecting you today.