Do You Smell Like Smoke?

Posted on 09.20.2012

One of the highlights of my week is attending church with my husband and daughter on Sundays.  After church, we talk, laugh and share over brunch.  A few Sundays ago, I was touched by something my husband said—and I have been pondering it ever since.

That Sunday we discussed how we all will continue to face trials and troubles in life.  We focused on how our response to life’s challenges is what matters most.  We used the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego as an example from the Bible, in Daniel 3:

King Nebuchadnezzar had erected a gold statue on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. It was proclaimed that as soon as the sound of the horn, other instruments and music was heard, everyone had to fall down and worship this statue.  Those who did not fall down and worship the statue would be thrown into a furnace. This decree was issued by king Nebuchadnezzar.  It applied to everyone.  However, there were some prominent Jews in that province—Shadrach Meshach and Abednego—who did not serve the gods of the king or worship the image of gold.  When the king heard of their insolence, which was reported to him by some other men in the province, he became furious and enraged!  These three men were, thus, brought before the king.  The king asked the three if what he had heard of their insubordination was true.  This is how they answered him:

“O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter.  If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king.  But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:17-18).

At this point, Nebuchadnezzar was so furious he ordered that the furnace be heated seven times hotter and that the strongest soldiers tie the men up and throw them in!  The furnace was so hot it killed the soldiers who threw the men in!  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego went into the fire fully clothed and refusing to bow down. What happened after that was beyond amazing:  The king looked into the furnace and saw four men inside instead of three and said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods” (Daniel 3:25).

This historical account is rich in life lessons.  The one I point to lies in how we come out of our “fiery furnaces,” or our trials.  When we face difficulties, we must remember that if we surrender to Christ and put our full trust in Him, we will emerge from our challenges purer, sweeter, better and lovelier.  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had full confidence that God could save and rescue them.  They had such resolute faith that they believed even if God did not save them, they would not succumb to engaging in a wrongful act that was antithetical to their belief system.  As a result of their stance, God was with them in the furnace and honored their trust and faith—which is credited as righteousness.  When king Nebuchadnezzar had them pulled out of the fire, neither their hair, bodies nor clothes were harmed—“there was no smell of fire on them” (Daniel 3:27).   In other words, they didn’t even smell like smoke!  

Have our trials scarred us and made us bitter?  Have our challenges left us a little angrier than we used to be?  Have our troubles of the past caused us to see the glass “half empty” rather than “half-full?”  Have our battles left us maimed and unable to function fully according to God’s plan?

Fire purifies.  Let us take a moment to reflect on our lives—to see if we have allowed the smell of smoke to linger and cloud our “aroma of Christ”.  As my husband put it that Sunday morning: “Do you smell like smoke?”