Adversity, persecution, and suffering are unavoidable in life. It can sometimes feel like being a Christian is a magnet for these experiences.
In 22 years of pastoral ministry, I have witnessed time and time again how a spiritually undisciplined life magnifies trials.
- James makes it clear that we will face trials of many kinds.
- Jesus said that we would experience tribulation in this life.
- Paul says is in Acts 14 that it is through many hardships that we enter the kingdom of God.
But a life built on the Word of God and the fellowship with the Holy Spirit is designed to overcome trials much easier than those not. Your daily spiritual disciplines strengthen you to face the many hardships in life.
This is why we must be committed to:
- Reading and meditating on God’s word,
- Having a regular habit of prayer,
- Engage in fasting,
- The regular practice of going to church as often as we are able.
These disciplines build your faith to handle every storm that comes your way!
The book of Daniel introduces us to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who were Hebrews living in Babylon. What are three Hebrew boys doing living in Babylon? Daniel 1 informs us how Judah and Jerusalem were given into the hands of Babylon. Verse 2 makes it clear that God gave the people over to Babylon.
Why would God allow this?
This would happen after God’s many attempts to lead the people to repentance, and they refused. So eventually, God allows them (and us) to experience the consequences of our actions.
Obedience is not God’s way of controlling us but blessing us.
Without rules, we become slaves to our desires that destroy us. God’s blessing is birthed out of obedience.
After conquering Judah, King Nebuchadnezzar takes some of the nobles back to Babylon to train them for service in his kingdom. Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, and Daniel were four of those taken because they showed great skill, aptitude and had a good appearance.
These young men were around 14-15 years old, the age of those typically trained for service to the king in Babylon.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were not their Hebrew names but Persian names given to strip them of their identity. They were taken 900 miles from their home and isolated from their culture.
Yet this would not change who they were on the inside. Daniel 1:8 explains why. “Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself…”
Daniel and his friends predetermined that they would not dishonor God, no matter what. A commitment of this level can only be forged in the discipline of pursuing God.
After three years of service these young men are primed for their greatest testing yet, trial by fire. The king makes a statue of himself and commands all his leaders to bow down and worship the statue. The punishment for not bowing down and worshiping the statue was death by fire.
Here’s the thing, if these three guys bowed, no one around them would think anything of it. Their families are 900 miles away, and Daniel is not around to tell on them. These were serious consequences versus a single moment of compromise. They worship the statue!
As the king learns how they have refused to bow, he is furious with rage. In verse 15, the king is willing to give them another chance and cues the band to play again and reminds them what will happen if they do not.
They reply, with wisdom beyond their years, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter.” (Daniel 3:16) In other words, we have no other answer to give you.
Their faith was so strong that they believed God would rescue them from the fiery furnace. Yet, they stated that they would not worship any other God even if God did not. This is exemplary faith, not a conditional faith.
How many times have we said, “God, if you do this (fill in the blank) then I promise to do this”? That’s conditional faith.
God does not negotiate the terms of faith. We are either all in or not. The three guys were equally devoted to God whether He saved them or not!
In the king’s rage over their rebellion, he orders the furnace turned up seven times hotter. The fire was so hot that those who threw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in died from the heat.
And that’s when God showed up! As the king looks in, he sees four people in the fire.
God doesn’t always prevent the trials or storms of life from coming, but He does promise to go with us through every storm. In a supernatural intervention, they are not burnt, their clothes do not smell like smoke, and they are completely unharmed.
Your uncompromising faithfulness also results in God’s glory. There faithfulness is directly connected to others discovering God.
As a result of their unwillingness to compromise and willingness to face the consequences for it, God appeared, and everyone witnessed the God of Israel!
“29Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.” 30Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.” Daniel 3:29-30
- Even if God doesn’t prevent the hardship, will you stand?
- Will you endure and make God’s glory known and be the reason others are see God, despite the pain?
Never lose hope in God to deliver you but continue to hold tight to Him even if He doesn’t show up on your schedule.