Meditation Two – FAITH IN THE FURNACE
King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up quickly. He said to his counselors, “Was it not three men that we threw bound into the fire?” They answered the king, “True, O king.” He replied, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the middle of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the fourth has the appearance of a god.” (Daniel 3:24-25)
On Sunday morning, we will be joined in spirit, though not physical presence. The biblical tradition proclaims that God is present wherever we are. Truly, nothing can separate us from God’s love.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into a fiery furnace because they refused to worship a golden stature, erected by the Babylonian kind Nebuchadnezzar. The king and his minions expected them to die in the flames. Yet, when they peered into the fiery furnace, they saw a fourth person, a divine presence protecting the three Hebraic dissidents.
When we feel threatened, we often view ourselves as isolated and without resources. Yet, it is at such times that God is with us. Perhaps, you remember the poem, “Footprints.” Looking back on this life, a man chides God for his absence. In the most challenging times, he saw only one step of footprints and assumed that God had abandoned him. God gently responded, “When you saw only one set of footprints, I was carrying you.”
On this Sabbath, our calling is to trust that God is with us, sustaining us and guiding our path. In the fire and the water, God is our fellow pilgrim. We are not alone. We have everything we need to live by love and not fear, most especially when we are tempted to succumb to panic. As we take seriously the words of the medical community, trusting our best scientists, let us also remember that our lives are part of a larger story of God’s abiding presence. In every season, God is our companion, and we are God’s own. God will outlast the Coronavirus, and every other threat.
Loving and Eternal Companion, in fire and water, you are present. You love is stronger than our fear. Your grace greater than our doubt. Help us to trust you and in trusting, reach out to others, sharing the graces we have received. In Christ’s Name. Amen.
(© Bruce Epperly, 2020)
Bruce Epperly is a Cape Cod pastor, professor, and author of our fifty books including “Finding God in Suffering: A Journey with Job,” “Become Fire: Guideposts for Interspiritual Pilgrims,” and “Angels, Mysteries, and Miracles: A Progressive Vision.”