When has it been tough to follow Jesus? Maybe a time when you being asked to serve in a way that you were not gifted? Maybe a time when you had an opportunity to share your faith with an unbeliever? Maybe a time when you had to stay patient when your kids or your coworkers were getting on your nerves? Maybe a time when you had to resist peer pressure to do something that dishonored God?
In the third chapter of Daniel, three men (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) were faced with a tough situation of obedience. A foreign king, Nebuchadnezzar, had constructed a golden image that he was requiring all of the citizens to worship. Anyone who resisted would be cast into a fiery furnace. Thus, these three men of God were faced with two options: disobey God and worship the golden statue or continue to worship God and die.
With unwavering faith, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stand up to King Nebuchadnezzar, refusing to bow down and worship his image. They declare in v. 17 that God is able to deliver them from the fiery furnace and from the hand of the king. Furthermore, even if God should allow them to die for their faith, they will refuse to worship and serve any other god other than the God of Israel.
As the story continues we see that God not only spares the lives of His faithful servants, but also sends an angel (many scholars believe this angel was Jesus) to protect and be present with the men in the fiery furnace.
And thus we see the way we can have courage to obey God in these tough situations: trusting in the strength, presence, and work of Jesus. Apart from Jesus, we can do nothing, let alone obey him in tough circumstances. However, in Christ’s strength, we are promised that we will bear much fruit (John 15:5).
Secondly, as Jesus was giving his final commands to his disciples to go make disciples, he comforted them that he would always be with them, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20). It’s His everlasting presence that would give them the courage they needed to build His Church.
Finally, Jesus warned his disciples that as they followed him they would encounter trials and tribulations. However, they were to not lose heart, because his work had overcome the world (John 16:33).
Therefore, whenever you and I encounter these tough situations to follow Christ, we do not have to run nor do we have to fear the outcome. Rather, as we remember the strength, presence, and work of Jesus we can find the courage we need to be faithful to God in all situations.
As Scotty Smith writes, “Jesus is our faithful Savior who endured the fiery trial of the cross for us. No matter the temptation, trial, or trauma—Jesus is with us and for us. Hallelujah!”
Hallelujah indeed! Enjoy reading Daniel this month. May it encourage you to find the courage you need in Jesus to obey Him.