As another school year quickly approaches, its awesome to reflect on all the good things God has done this summer. We got to see some amazing growth take place this year as many students took a step forward in their relationship with God. There were multiple first time commitments to follow Jesus mixed with many students who took their relationships with God to a deeper level. This growth was amazing to experience, but now as students re-enter the world of public school, these relationships with God will face a new set of challenges.
This week we continued our study in the book of Daniel in an attempt to answer the over-arching question “How can we live as Christians in a non-christian world?” Last week we discussed how we can relate to Daniel on a spiritual level; He was a man of faith living in a culture that daily pressured Him to give up what He believed in. Through studying his dedication to God, we can learn a lot about what it takes to thrive in a world that opposes your faith.
This week we took our study a level deeper as we asked the question “How do we respond when following Jesus Gets hard?” When the path of sin is more enticing than the path of obedience, when the world attacks us and makes fun of us because of our faith, when the pain and struggle of life seems to much to bear, when these things weigh on us… what do we do?
To answer this extremely important question, we turned to the popular story found in Daniel 3. In this chapter Daniel shares with us the miraculous story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and their refusal to give in to the demands of a tyrant king. This story is an unbelievable example of faith in the face of persecution. By studying the actions and words of these three friends we get a perfect guide for how to respond when following Jesus gets hard.
As we read their story, the first thing that is inspiring to see is their their unwavering obedience to do what God has asked. They knew that to obey God means certain death, but they put obedience to God as their first priority. In the midst of extreme pressure to give up their faith, they recognized that the one thing they had control over was their own actions; they couldn’t control what the king would do, they couldn’t guarantee that God would save them if they obeyed, they couldn’t control anything except if they would obey and trust God. So for us today we need to recognize that same truth.
When we face difficult situations that challenge us to choose the world or choose our faith, We need to control our own behavior, and trust God to handle the rest. We need to walk in obedience, and trust that God will handle the rest.
It is clear that these men trusted the God and knew that whatever happened to them was under God’s control. When we find ourselves in similar situations it would benefit us greatly if we could practice this same type of trust. We must remind ourselves to Trust God: Trust that He is good. Trust that He sees your situation and He cares about you. Trust that he can and will work everything out to the good of those who love Him.
As we continue to read their story, the second truth that we can learn and hold on to is the fact that in the midst of their hardest struggle, when they are condemned to death and thrown into the furnace, God shows Himself to be with them all along. Not only do the flames of the fire not harm them, but we are told that God is literally standing among them. From this awesome image we can see the comforting truth that God may allow us to walk through Hard times, but he will never leave our side.
If we can trust this truth then it will give us the comfort and hope we need to persevere through the difficulties this life brings our way. This story gives us some amazing insight and beautifully illustrates how we can continue to live for Jesus even when the path gets hard.