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Help when things get bad

Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to throw them into the blazing furnace.

Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire? Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, and they saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.

Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants!”

(Daniel 3: portions of 19-28) [Read the full story]

There are stories in the Bible that remind us that the conditions of our spiritual life can sometimes get pretty bad. In fact, things can get so out of control that without Divine intervention, or God’s help, we are toast.

The story in the book of Daniel about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego getting thrown into the burning fiery furnace because they refused to bow down to Nebuchadnezzar’s golden image is one example. It is poignant because it not only illustrates how bad life can get, but it also shows an incredible power that the Lord has to rescue us from destruction.

When, on a spiritual, emotional level, do we experience something similar to being thrown into “the burning, fiery furnace?” I think of times when feelings of hatred or revenge run wild in our thoughts and intentions. These destructive feelings are so powerful, we have no power against them by ourselves—it is as if we are bound by our hot anger and thrown into an oven and on our own these feelings are impossible to control.

I see the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego as reminding us that we can’t stand up to such dark and powerful feelings alone. By ourselves, we are consumed and destroyed by such feelings of rage. But we can get help.

The three men were protected in the furnace by a fourth who was “like a son of the gods.” That is a powerful message for us when we are going through these tough times. The imagery in the story presents the power that the Lord has to protect us in times of emotional turmoil. A passage in the book Secrets of Heaven describes this protection by noting that “the Lord alone fights on behalf of a person and protects him when he is under attack from the hells; and does so constantly, especially in temptations which are spiritual conflicts” (8273). The message here is clear, that when we ask the Lord to help protect us from the feelings of rage that well up within us from hell—He will come. It is even helpful to visualize Him standing beside us offering us His protection.

This protection is an important part of our lives. The more we remember to turn to the Lord and call upon His protection, the stronger and more able we become to withstand being swept away in times of emotional conflict. When we can stand at peace in these times, we can then help offer the Lord’s wisdom in situations that are tense and difficult.

This is how angels work subconsciously in our lives. They constantly work to quietly, subconsciously influence people in ways that offer the Lord’s protection.

If you could ask them about their role, they might reply that they were just bringing the Lord’s presence to a situation and they of themselves had no power at all. That is a fundamental principle in heaven. Angels who know they are powerless of themselves have the greatest strength against the forces coming from hell because they are more open to receiving true power, coming from the Lord alone.

Rev.David Lindrooth is the director of General Church Outreach, supporting the international growth of the New Church.

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"All the life a person has comes from the Lord by way of communities."

Arcana Coelestia 8794:3