Focus On Hope

Happy New Year!  Are you excited for the new year? Are you focusing in on those things you want to change, experience, and grow in?  Or, is the new year a reminder of things that remain the same, despite your heart’s desire to have them change? 

Well, my beloved friend, this world is a crazy place.  It’ll continue to be a crazy place.  And it’s always been a crazy place.  In fact, something along these lines is mentioned by King Solomon: “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9, NIV) I mention this because we are going to talk about these guys: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego and how they focused on hope despite the craziness. Here’s the backdrop. 

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego are living during a time of wars being sieged on their country and city.  They are taken into captivity.  Their names are changed and they are pushed into a culture they don’t want to be a part of.  These things were done in an attempt that they would forget their home, family, and faith, and submit themselves to one of the most violent and ruthless kings there ever was.  Not exactly a lot of hope for them to focus on.

Have you ever kept your eyes focused on the One who is the source of all hope, even if it seemed like everything was working against you?  Even if it seemed like you had lost everything?

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego were friends with Daniel, who writes the account of Israel’s time in captivity as he was in service to the kings of Babylon.  These four men, despite having everything taken from them and then being given access to all the luxurious things that would make any person commit loyalty to a fear instilling king; focused on God and didn’t waiver.  They stood up for what they believed in despite possible persecution (see Daniel 1:8).  They prayed to God for wisdom when it came to issues regarding King Nebuchadnezzar (see Daniel 2:17-18).  And they were given favor and compassion by those in charge of them (see Daniel 2:48-49).  So, maybe things weren’t going to be so bad for them?

When we get to chapter 3 of Daniel, we see jealously and envy and how those emotions affect thoughts, and those thoughts turn into spiteful and evil actions.  Leaders in Babylon want to destroy Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego because of the favor they have.  And how quickly King Nebuchadnezzar forgets their service to him, and orders for them to be thrown into a fiery furnace.  Why?  Because they won’t bend the knee to worship a statue of him.  The very faith these men had that benefitted the king and his kingdom was used against them to convict them to death. 

Has someone ever turned on you?  Benefitted from your talents, treasures, and faith, only to retaliate against you?  It’s a horrible feeling that can leave you hurt, angry, feeling betrayed, and all alone, and if we don’t get those emotions and thoughts in check, it can lead us to walk away from God. 

Thankfully, in this account, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego didn’t walk away from God.  In fact, they continued to focus in on Him, knowing who He is, and the hope they have because of Him:

“If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O King.  But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”  (Daniel 3:17-18 NASB)

Oh the boldness to call out a king and the anchor of hope that these men had in their God! Their response “filled Nebuchadnezzar with wrath” (vs. 19).  He ordered that the furnace be heated up seven times more than it is usually heated.  He commands his warriors to throw them in the fire and upon opening the door, some of these warriors are burned alive instantly because the flames are so hot and intense.  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego are bound together by ropes and cast into the furnace.  The king watches, maybe with a smug expression on his face, thinking “That’ll teach them and anyone else that won’t worship me.”  But instead of watching death take place, the king sees life standing amidst the flames.  In fact, he sees four bodies in the furnace, walking around (vs. 25)!  Instantly, the king’s demeanor changes and the door is ordered open and the men walk out of the furnace, unharmed.  The only thing that had been burned to ash was the ropes that bound them.

I love that these 3 men were so dedicated to God, bold in their faith, and expected that He would save them, as hope is being expectant that thing will happen.  But they acknowledged something that can be difficult:  Even if He doesn’t save us, we won’t worship anything but Him. 

My beloved friend.  Maybe this new year is a time for you to focus in on God and the hope that can only come from him.  Maybe it is time to stop worshiping other things (that relationship, money, status, privilege, politics, appearance, pain we can’t let go of…..) and to start worshiping the only One we should bow a knee too. Maybe it’s time to start having an expectancy that God is going to show up and burn the ropes that bind you.  It is my prayer that 2018 will be a year of you diligently focusing on God, His character, and most importantly, His love for you.

Megan Sinisi  is one of our Refres{her} bloggers. She describes herself as a 30-something year old lady who is still figuring out who the heck she is and sometimes worries she is just crazy. Megan is a most of the time stay at home mom of 3 precious little “tyrants” whom she loves more than her own breathe and wife to an amazing husband. She absolutely adores a good cup of coffee, chocolate and peanut butter combinations, coloring, being crafty, figuring out homeschooling her children, being silly and laughing with her husband, and chatting with friends about embarrassing moments and deep things at the same time. She has a love and fervor for writing and is walking in faith that God is calling her to use the passion and the gift He has given her. She hopes that her journey encourages, challenges, inspires, comforts, and most importantly, shines the light of Jesus and the reality of His love, grace, and mercy. More writings can be found on Megan's blog at: