If you’ve spent time in Sunday School, you’ve probably read (or at least heard) about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  If you’ve never read it, here are the cliff’s notes.   In this Old Testament bible story, King Nebuchadnezzar set up an idol and commanded that all his officials bow down before it. All who failed to do so would be thrown into a blazing furnace. The king had appointed the three Jewish teens to a high office in Babylon.  After his edict, Babylonian officials informed the king that the three were refusing to worship the golden statue. The three were brought before the King where they informed him that God would be with them. In return, King Nebuchadnezzar commanded that were to be thrown into the fiery furnace, heated seven times hotter than normal.  However, when the king looked inside the furnace, he saw not three, but four figures walking unharmed in the flames, the fourth “like a son of God.” Seeing this, Nebuchadnezzar brought the youths out of the flames and promoted them to an even higher office, decreeing that anyone who spoke against God should be torn limb from limb.  What a story!

Although we know these three Hebrew boys as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, those were their Babylonian names.  Their real names—their Hebrew names were actually Hananiah, which means “Yah is gracious”; Mishael, which means “who is what God is”; and Azariah, which means “Yah has helped.”

The three Hebrew boys’ real names—their true identities–were tied to who they were in God, and as a result, they were confident in rising above the labels that were placed on them and the persecution that came as a result of their faithfulness in God.  They may have had new names, but they KNEW their identity.  They had new roles, but they KNEW their purpose.  They had new challenges, but they KNEW they could rely on God to rescue and deliver them from any situation.  They KNEW that even though the flames of their trials were hot, they would not be burned!

At The Nest, a lot of our moms struggle with identity.  Some have had terrible words and circumstances lobbed on them.  Some struggle to see their own worth and value.  Some have never learned to honor and celebrate who they are.  When we welcome them into our fold, we accept them for who they are.  We affirm their inherent worth as people – as young women — with our words and actions. We celebrate blessings and cry through lessons together. We call them by name and show them how to rise above the labels that are rooted in their pasts. Through daily discipleship and mentoring, we point them toward their identity in Christ and help them see who God says they are.  The journey is never easy.  But it’s always worth it.

Reading:  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  –Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Prayer:  Lord, help me to rest in my identity in You.  Help me to know who you have made me to be no matter what circumstances come my way.  Help me to hope in the future you have for me and help me to remember that no matter what comes my way, You are always with me.  In Your name we pray, Amen.