I have always been an avowed war movie buff. In fact, I consider myself quite the connoisseur of war films. One of my favorites is Courage Under Fire.
In the movie, Courage Under Fire, an Army officer, Lt. Colonel Nat Serling–played by Denzel Washington–attempts to find rest from a mistake that he made which led to the loss of American lives on the battlefield while serving in the Persian Gulf War. Desperate to escape from the demons of his past that continually plague him throughout the film, he investigates a female officer’s worthiness –Captain Karen Walden, played my Meg Ryan– for the posthumous granting of the Medal of Honor. As he unravels and pieces together the differing stories of soldiers who were there when she was killed, he discovers a diabolical plot to keep the truth from surfacing. In the end, Lt. Colonel Serling’s persistence and courage to seek the truth leads to unearthing the real story about what happened to Captain Walden and in so doing he is able to give her family a measure of comfort and peace in relaying her heroic efforts to them as well as approving her to receive the Medal of Honor.
Both Colonel Serling and Captain Walden had the courage under fire to forge ahead into the fray. Captain Walden had given up a life as a mom in order to protect her soldiers and Colonel Serling–facing scathing criticism–was able to cast aside his own inner turmoil and come to the aid of Captain Walden who deserved to be recognized and honored for her actions. As I thought about the indomitable courage it takes to go to battle and to face our own personal demons in order to diffuse the schemes of Satan, my mind rested upon the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego displayed the same heroism commensurate with that of Lt. Colonel Serling and Captain Walden. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stood obstinately against the megalomaniac–King Nebuchadnezzar. A man so full of himself that he had a nine story golden statue erected of either himself or the tutelary Babylonian god of wisdom–Nabu–and then ordered all the people to bow down and pay homage to it or face certain death by being cast into a fiery furnace. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stood resolute against the King’s injunction saying:
“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and He will deliver us from your majesty’s hand. But even if He does not, we want you to know, your majesty that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up. ” (Dan. 3:17-18)
King Nebuchadnezzar, infuriated by their stark refusal to bow to him or his god, orders them to be cast into the fire immediately. Moreover, he orders that the furnace be heated up. So much so, that the guards who escort Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to the furnace are they themselves consumed by the rolling fire. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego fall into the fire, but it isn’t long before Nebuchadnezzar jumps to his feet and to his astonishment realizes that they are walking about inside the furnace completely unharmed!
Nebuchadnezzar has them removed from the fire and gives glory to God rather than himself or the false god of Nabu. It had started out as a day in which Nebuchadnezzar reveled in his own hubris and victories over conquered peoples. It had ended with the mighty Nebuchadnezzar bowing down to God–the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. The three of them were able to have this unwavering courage in the face of the fire because they placed their trust in the Lord and were confident in His ability to deliver them.
We too will all pass through the fire along our given paths in life. Some of us may be in the middle of the fire right now, while others may be walking on the dying embers of past struggles. Wherever you are along your journey, remember the humble servants of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
The road of life is riddled with successes and failures, joys and despairs, laughter and sorrow. Indeed there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the Heavens. That day, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were refined in the fire. All of us will be refined in the fire by the circumstances and trials of life. It is only through those trials that we can grow in our reliance upon God to be our Navigator throughout the journey—leaning upon Him and not our own strength. God wants to use those turbulent times in our lives where we are in the thick of the fire to make us shine like the finest of diamonds. It’s only when we are tested by the flames of affliction and adversity that our greatest victories can come about.
Seasons will come and go but one thing is certain, when our faith is tested, and we undergo the crucible of suffering, God will pluck us from the fire and we will shine for Him as a result. When we trust in God along the road less traveled we can expect that there will be obstacles occluding our path, but God, speaking through the prophet Isaiah reassures us, saying:
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” (Isa. 43:2)
So no matter how unbearable the fire may get, trust in the Lord and know that this too shall pass.