God of the Shoulds
The word ‘should’ is the key to most people’s life. You should get a degree. You should take this job. You should marry that person. You should make a certain decision. You should live in a certain area. The word ‘should’ applies to everything!
And most of us want to be gods of our own shoulds. We want to be in control of what should happen to us. Even as Christians, we still want to tell God what should happen. We want to use him to make what should happen, happen.
However, it wasn’t like that for Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They didn’t want to be in charge of what should happen. That was God’s job.
In the Book of Daniel, chapter 3, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were confronted by Nebuchadnezzar and ordered to serve his gold statue. The same decree also stated that anyone who refused to bow down and worship this gold statue, would be burned into a blazing furnace.
How would you respond? Put yourselves in their shoes for a second. It’s not an easy decision, is it?
After refusing to bow down to this gold statue, some of the astrologers went to the king to inform him. Now, standing before the king, Nebuchadnezzar gave them one more chance: bow down, or else he would cast them into the fiery furnace. He asked them, ‘And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?’
But the three men stood their ground.
‘Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.’—Daniel 3:16-18
This is one of the most radical stands in the entire Bible. Nothing could be more relevant to our own lives than this stand by Shadrach, Meshach and Abenego. We need to understand this. Digest this. Own this!
What a magnificent stand, especially when their necks are on the line. But there’s even more to their stand than just that. Dig a little deeper and you can see that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are affirming something about their God that is absolutely breathtaking. It’s an affirmation that you and I need to cherish.
Verse 17 — ‘Our God, whom we serve, is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.’
They affirm that God can do anything! We love that about God, he is omnipotent, all powerful, and he can do whatever he wants!
They don’t stop there! There’s another half, and it’s the half that is so radical.
Verse 18 — ‘But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.’
Astonishing, isn’t it? God can deliver us, if he wants to deliver us. But… even if he shouldn’t, and so he doesn’t, we’re going to serve him and not your gods. He can if he wants, and he will if he should.
He is the God of the shoulds!
The story continues. As Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were thrown into the fire—a fire so hot that it killed the men who threw them in it—Nebuchadnezzar noticed something interesting.
‘He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.”’— Daniel 3:24-25
Who is that fourth person? We don’t know, but we do know what he looks like. According to Nebuchadnezzar, he appears like a son of the gods. He looks divine.
Well, he is.
Whenever you trust God with what should happen in your life, in whatever does happen, he will be there right by your side; caring for you, comforting you, communicating with you.
The heat may be stifling, painful, unendurable, but you’re not in the furnace alone. There is someone divine standing by your side.
He’s already done it. He came into a furnace much hotter than anything Nebuchadnezzar could stoke up. He took our sins upon his shoulders which had ignited the fiery wrath, the white hot indignation of God himself. And there on that cross, he bore the heat which we ought to have borne, and set us free from those sins.
‘And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’— Matthew 28:20
Jesus, the son of God, said: I’ll take your heat, I’ll bear your burdens, I’ll comfort you in disappointment, I’ll uphold you in defeat, I’ll care for you in distress, I’ll bind you up in despair. In your weakness, I will be your strength. I am always with you. I won’t ever leave!
The hotter it gets, the more real his presence will be in your life!
When you let God decide what will happen in your life, and trust him to be the God of your shoulds, he will walk with you every step of the way.