Beads of sweat trickled down their backs, making the silk of their tunics cling to their skin. But, despite the wild crashing in each of their chests, as one man, the three young men lifted their heads in stern defiance of the tyrannical king and his immense idol.
“Bow!” Nebuchadnezzar leaped from his throne, his purple cape swirling around him as an enraged snarl ripped out of his throat.
It was Shadrach who answered him, speaking in a voice as strong and uncompromising as the mountains that ridged the plain. “We’ll die first.”
It’s been almost 3,000 years since the heroes of Daniel Chapter 3—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—made their notable stand against idolatry but time has not eradicated the pressure that drove the “Hebrew boys” to defy political, social and religious powers. In 2018, those unseen forces are stronger than ever.
Today, society mandates we accept lifestyles, gender classification and the reinterpretation of religious texts or risk losing our careers, being ostracized from social circles and worse.
It seems that in our supposed quest for tolerance, America has forgotten the very meaning of the word.
As such, true believers are faced with a choice now like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were then. We can either bow, or hush our beliefs and conform with a seemingly overwhelming tide of evil, or we can stand up and proudly declare our faith in a risen Jesus Christ whose Word never changes despite the vagaries of the Supreme court and society as a whole.
Thousands of other professed believers in Jehovah bowed that day. Only three had the courage to prove their faith was more than a profession.
What does this attitude of compromise produce?
It prevents seekers from believing our testimony of Christ. Why should a sinner want to accept Christ if our choices identify us as lukewarm?
It hurts God. We can imagine how proud the Father was of His three sons; men who wholeheartedly followed His word. He showed His pride by standing with them.
It strengthens the power of darkness. In reality, the conflict today is not about GLBTQ rights, political parties or church affiliation; it’s about faith versus doubt, God versus Satan. When believers bow to the powers of evil, regardless of the situation, they lend support to the very thing they were meant to resist.
When believers stand up for what is right, a miracle happens. We may be ostracized; the day may even come when we lose our lives. But truth is proven to be more than just words and, believe me my friends, that is worth any price.
When believers stand for God, He always stands for them in their time of adversity. He may let things get really difficult—frankly He let our heroes actually go to the fiery furnace—but when He moves, He moves.
A young mother dies of cancer while an alcoholic murderer lives to be 90. A couple struggles to raise a child with mental challenges, despite a lifetime of spiritual devotion. At first glance, life seems to be full of paradoxical contradictions that appear to deny the existence of a loving God.
But there is an answer to this question.
The Bible tells us that our idea and God’s idea of a “good” person are not synonymous. Jesus said outright that the only truly good Person is God (Mark 10:18). We’re all flawed, born into a condition whose weaknesses are evident each day of our life.
But God doesn’t want us to stay that way.
Because He loves us, He wants to make us like Himself, to eradicate the glaring imperfections in our lives by the secret workings of His divine purpose.
To accomplish this end-goal, God often allows tough circumstances to mark our life’s journey. Illness, tragic loss, sometimes even personal failure—things we are quick to label as “bad.” But if we can look beyond the pain, we will quickly see one life-altering truth:
the situation is not as important as our reaction to it.
In my newly-released novel, In the Shadow of Your Wings, Eleanor Thompson—a mother whose child is tragically killed in a German air strike during World War 1—teaches us the power of an attitude that remains God-centered despite life’s challenges.
If we cling to our faith in God, despite the pain, guilt or fear that confronts us, we will become stronger. We will break through, shatter chains and emerge from the gloom a little closer to Him than ever before.
Just as the potter puts a work of art into the kiln so its true beauty can be seen, so God allows situations that, while painful, reveal our true potential. But that all depends on if we choose to continue to believe instead of rebel.
Why do bad things happen to good people?
So that flawed people can finally become truly good.