Who are heroes? What is an ‘Upside Down Hero’? Are you a hero? Can you be a hero?
Who are heroes? What is an ‘Upside Down Hero’? Are you a hero? Can you be a hero?
I love the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Daniel 3 of the Bible. These three men made a decision that had enormous consequences.
They were ordered by King Nebuchadnezzar to worship a golden statue he had set up. If they refused to bow and worship his idol, they would die for their disobedience.
They chose to disobey the king. The backlash to their decision was that they were immediately ordered by King Nebuchadnezzar to be thrown into a fiery furnace. The king was so angry that he even instructed the furnace be heated seven times hotter than usual.
When they were thrown into the flames, the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego saved them. The King jumped to his feet because he could clearly see four men walking around in the fire. That was as I would say, “Unreal!”. How could there be four men walking around in the fire when only three tied up men were thrown into it?
Can you imagine what it would have been like to be in that fire! To be thrown into the fire, to be alive and not burning, to have your chains fall off, and then for God to join you – that would make any person dance for joy in the fire! I would look at my hands and feet and laugh and dance! Even more incredible would be that my God joined me in the fire!
Here is what the Bible said King Nebuchadnezzar’s response was:
Then Nebuchadnezzar went to the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, come out! Servants of the Most High God, come here!”
So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out of the fire. When they came out, the governors, assistant governors, captains of the soldiers, and royal advisers crowded around them and saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies. Their hair was not burned, their robes were not burned, and they didn’t even smell like smoke!
Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Their God has sent his angel and saved his servants from the fire! These three men trusted their God and refused to obey my command. They were willing to die rather than serve or worship any god other than their own.
So I now give this command: Anyone from any nation or language who says anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego will be torn apart and have his house turned into a pile of stones. NO OTHER GOD CAN SAVE HIS PEOPLE LIKE THIS.” (Daniel 3: 26-29 NCV)
The God of the Bible has not changed. He is the still the same God. No matter what fire you are thrown into God will immediately free you and join you in the fire – you can dance in the fire! You will dance in the fire!
There is always a battle in our minds – fear, doubt, and uncertainties try and rule us. Those thoughts are lies! The truth is God’s Word! The real truth is that God will join you in any fire you are thrown in and you will dance in the fire!
” . . . If you will not believe, you surely shall not last.” (Isaiah 7:9 NASB)
In the days of Ahaz, kings went to Jerusalem to wage war against it. When it was reported to the house of David, Ahaz’s heart and the heart of his people, ” . . . shook as the trees of the forest shake with the wind.” (Isaiah 7:2 NASB)
God spoke to the prophet, Isaiah, and told him to tell Ahaz not to fear or be fainthearted. Although the enemies had plans for evil, God said their plans would not come to pass.
God told Ahaz that if he would not believe, he would not last.
Our enemy still has plans for evil. He often attacks us by reporting ‘into our thoughts’ — “This will hurt you. How can God be looking out for your best when the situation is so painful? How can God be good if he allows you to experience pain? How can God be a kind and compassionate God if He allows this to happen? How can God be good if …? Why did God not tell you the truth? Did you really hear what God said? Do you realize it has been ten years since God said that, and it has not happened?”
These thoughts are deadly arrows of doubt that will make us not last if we choose not to believe in God. The enemy will take us out if we choose not to believe. The enemy knows how to precisely shoot his deadly arrows into painful places in our hearts in an effort to try and get us to not believe God and take us out of the race set before us.
” ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.’ “ (Jeremiah 29:11)
God’s plans for His people are good. He loves His people and wants what is best for them. Yet, just as Ahaz and his people did, we choose to fear and mistrust God’s goodness when the enemy attacks.
God does great things in our lives. He rescues us. He puts us on a path of life that is full of adventure and excitement. He carries us when we are weak. He loves us and comforts us. He never leaves us. However, when troubles, pain, difficult times, slander, seemingly lack of finances, boredom, or whatever else that makes you personally doubt God’s goodness comes along, we forget who God is and His promises. By not trusting God, we tell Him that we know better than Him what is best and that we don’t believe Him or His goodness.
In 2015, we humans are still the same as the children of Israel were in Moses’ time. We are prone to doubt God unless we purposely choose to surrender to difficulties while trusting God to take us to our promised land.
God loved the children of Israel and delivered them from Egypt. He told them He was taking them to the promised land. There was a journey they had to go on in order to be transitioned to the promised land, and they would face the unknown during the journey. They were going where they had never been before.
Their enemies chased them. They ran out of food and water; however, God did provide BUT He did not provide in the way they thought He should. They were bored with the food He provided. How could God be good if He was going to feed them the same old yucky manna every day!
They looked back and complained. Wasn’t life better in Egypt? They were not remembering the truth! How could they worry about boring food when God just delivered them from being whipped by their masters whenever the master felt like it? How could they believe God was not good when He took them from being slaves to free people? Was Egypt truly as glorious as they were reminiscing that it was?
What was the reality? The reality was that God loved them and delivered them and promised them a land flowing with milk and honey. God was good. He was providing food for them along the way. He fought off and conquered their enemies in the most supernatural of ways with the parting of the Red Sea and then burying their enemies after they passed on dry land. God’s plans were good for them even though they could not see it. Even though they were experiencing fear, pain, boredom and seemingly lack of provision the reality was God was good and was planning such good for them if they only would believe and follow Him.
How God longs for a people who love Him – who trust Him. If we love God, then we trust Him. How He longs for us to know Him intimately enough that in spite of circumstances we trust He is working all things out for good, and we love Him by being patient with Him. Amazingly the Bible does say that love is patient. God smiles when we love Him by being patient with Him.
Hebrews 11 records triumphs of faith . . . Abel, Enoch, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, the prophets – conquerors of kingdoms who performed acts of righteousness and obtained promises.
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)
“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
In Hebrews 11, it says that Moses chose to endure ill-treatment with the people of God instead of enjoying the pleasures of sin. Moses had pain in his life. He endured and believed God in spite of his surroundings.
When God asks us to do something, there is a surrendering to the process and transition of what He asks. We must believe His plans are good even if we must endure pain. Perhaps we need to learn to embrace pain as a sweet offering to God – a sacrifice – an act of worship that says though they slay me I will trust in You.
“Behold God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; For the Lord God is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation.” (Isaiah 12:2)
I must believe – you must believe OR we will not last! We must believe the truth! Our sweet, gentle, loving, kind, just, compassionate, Shepherd God is working all things out for our good no matter what things look like, feel like, sound like – no matter what! The absolute truth is God is good. There is no evil in Him.
“The Lord of hosts has sworn saying, ‘Surely, just as I have intended so it has happened, and just as I have planned so it will stand.” (Isaiah 14:24)