The Fourth Man
by: Cris Corzine-McCloskey
Sometimes life is just mindbogglingly hard. Grief and pain are the great equalizers because no one gets a pass on these emotions. Life sucker-punches you, turns your world upside down, and you are left reeling and questioning everything you think you know about God. The Bible calls this a “testing of our faith.”
The Bible shows us plainly in the Book of Job that the great question of our faith is, do we serve God because we love Him, or do we serve Him because of all His goodies. When things are going well, and our finances, loved ones, and health are intact, it’s easy to sing a song of praise. It’s also easy to sing a quick song of praise and pray when things get tough because we are hoping for a particular outcome. But what happens to our faith when we keep praying and things keep getting worse?
There is a story in the Book of Daniel about 3 Hebrew boys who loved God but were taken captive and forced to serve a heathen King in a foreign land. Their faith remained steadfast. Then the King built a golden statue of himself and a fiery furnace. He told them to bow to the statue or be thrown into the furnace. Out of faithfulness to God, they refused. The King then stoked the fire up even hotter and gave them one more chance. They told the King it didn’t matter how hot he made the furnace, they would continue to trust God, and would not bow.
That enraged the King. He had them bound and thrown into a fire so hot it incinerated the guy shoving them into the furnace. Then an amazing thing happened. Not only did they not burn, but a 4th man appeared in the furnace and was seen walking about inside with them. The heathen King saw the 4th man and said: “He looks like the Son of God!” The 3 Hebrew boys were let out of the furnace. Miraculously, their bondage had been burned off, and they didn’t even smell like smoke.
My Dad has always loved that story. When I was sitting with him the other day, he barely had the strength to speak, but he asked me to use my phone to find The Fourth Man in the Fire by Johnny Cash. He had me play it for him repeatedly. I kept hearing the words “they wouldn’t bend, they wouldn’t bow, they wouldn’t burn.” Dad loved it.
It was a precious moment for me because I knew, although the furnace keeps getting hotter, my Dad will not bow to the enemy and renounce his faith. He’s held tight to his trust in God, and he has not been alone in the fire. He has recently told us he wants to stop fighting, and he’s ready to go home to Heaven. Dad is fearless. It seems that man never stops teaching me about Jesus.
If you find yourself in a position where you keep reaching out to God, and things keep getting worse, don’t fret. You are in a fiery furnace of testing. God didn’t put you in there, but He is in there with you. Don’t you bow your knee to anyone but God! He is still good and faithful, even when that furnace keeps getting hotter. You can trust Him. He will either deliver you out of the fire or through the fire. Regardless His method, your bondage will be burned off, and you won’t even smell like smoke when you get to the other side. Be like my Daddy. He didn’t bend, he didn’t bow, he didn’t burn!