A lot of you know that we chose to sing Hillsong UNITED’s Another in the Fire at Vance’s memorial service. It was Asa’s idea. We were in the car, heading out of town to buy the kids and I funeral clothes and Abby had control of the playlist for the drive. This song came on and Asa immediately said he wanted to sing it the next day. When I asked him why, he said because “It reminds me that I’m not alone.”
He’s so right.
This song was good for me before Vance’s heart attack. It’s been life changing since. Every single time I hear it, I’m moved by it.
But I got to thinking, it might not make sense to everyone. If you don’t know the Bible stories behind the song, and a lot of people don’t, it might not mean as much to you. So I thought I’d take a minute and tell you what the stories are and why they mean so much to me.
Let’s just start with the first lines of the chorus for now.
There was another in the fireHillsong UNITED
Standing next to me
Let’s start with the fire. In the Book of Daniel, we are told the story of three Hebrews who were taken into captivity in Babylon. They were forced to move miles and miles from their homes and their holy places. They were given new names, names that honored the gods of their conquerors rather than their God, Jehovah. Because these three were among Israel’s best and brightest, they were given access to the riches of King Nebuchadnezzar. They could have eaten the richest foods and the best wines. But they didn’t.
Instead, these young men, along with their friend, Daniel, chose to eat only vegetables and water. The reasons there are a little complicated, but let’s just say that the food the king ate was credited to the pagan gods. Likely, some of it wouldn’t have been kosher, which was kind of a big thing to ancient Israel. Eating it would have defiled the young men in the eyes of God. So they didn’t eat it.
God honored them for choosing to honor him. They grew stronger than the others who were eating from the king’s own table. They saw God’s hand and his favor.
Some time passed and the king decided that he was all that and a really big bag of chips. He had a ginormous golden statue of himself erected and required every person in the kingdom to bow down and worship it. The alternative was to be thrown immediately into the fiery furnace. (Don’t take my word for it. If you want to read the story for yourself, which I highly recommend, it’s found in Daniel 3.)
Of course our fellas didn’t bow. They knew better. They also knew the consequences. The king had decreed it and it had to be done. They would be thrown into the fire.
This is what they told the king:
16 …“King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us[c] from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
Did you catch that last part? I put it in bold for you. These guys knew that God could save them. They didn’t know if he would. But even if he didn’t, they were still going to serve only him.
And so they were thrown into a furnace so hot it killed the guards who tossed them in.
The king watched from a distance. Confused, he asked his advisors how many men they had thrown in. It was only three, right? But there were four. There was another in the fire. Standing next to the men in the flames was what many believe was God himself, come to earth in the flesh. If not that, at minimum, it was an angel of the Lord, sent by the Creator of the Universe to stand with his people.
They didn’t burn up in the fire.
They didn’t even smell like smoke when they came out.
The fire was still there. It was raging all around them. But they were never alone in it. There was always another in the fire, standing next to them.
For me, I love this song because, like Asa, it reminds me that I’m not alone. The fire is burning all around. It’s hot. So hot. Sometimes it feels like it’s about to consume me, to burn me up and leave nothing but ashes. This song reminds me that even if God chooses not to rescue me, even if my husband died, even if …. I am not alone. There is one who stands beside me and I will never be alone.