When Polycarp (AD 69-155), who was bishop of the church at Smyrna, was asked by Roman authorities to curse Christ if he wanted to be released, he said, “Eighty-six years I have served Him, and He never did me any wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?” The Roman officer threatened, “If you do not change your mind, I will have you consumed with fire.” Polycarp remained undaunted. Because he would not curse Christ, he was burned at the stake.
Centuries earlier, when three young men named Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego faced a similar threat, they answered, “O Nebuchadnezzar, . . . our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods” (Dan. 3:16-18). A similar experience but two different outcomes. Polycarp was burned alive, but Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego left the furnace unsinged.
Two different results but the same display of faith. These men showed us that faith in God is not simply faith in what God can do. But it’s the belief that God is God whether He delivers us or not. He has the final say. And it’s our decision to choose to follow Him through it all.