Monday, September 1, 2014

A faithful life

As a little girl, I grew up in the church and heard all the "famous" Bible stories:

  • Adam and Eve
  • Noah's Ark
  • Jacob's deception of his father Isaac
  • Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and the fiery furnace
  • Daniel and the Lion's Den
  • David and Bathsheba
  • The woman at the well
  • Jesus feeds the 5,000
  • Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection

If you're like me, though, you probably didn't learn the context of each story. As I got older and became more interested in the history of the Bible, I realized that these stories all seemed like isolated events instead of integral pieces of the bigger story of salvation.

Yesterday in church, Steve Farrar (filling in for Chuck), taught on Daniel. As he went through a brief overview of Daniel's life, I realized something completely obvious that somehow still took me by surprise: the Daniel of the fiery furnace (friend of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego), is the same Daniel as the Daniel who was thrown in the lion's den. Duh, right? I mean, I've used the name "Daniel" whenever I've recounted both stories, but for some reason, it really hit me yesterday that this was the same man.

What also struck me was the fact that he was in his early thirties when his friends faced the fiery furnace (after they went through their extensive training at the king's palace) and in his eighties when thrown into the lion's den. As I reflected on this, I realized I've had a preconceived (and wrong) notion that if we experience trials when we're younger, we'll "earn our wings" and likely not face big challenges outside of declining health - that we'll reach some sort of threshold of difficult experiences and not have to worry about significant trials later in life. 

Clearly, that is wrong thinking.

Daniel was faced with the choice of accepting a life of luxury at an early age - an age when he could have felt on top of the world. We learn here that Daniel and his friends were offered not only the chance to excel in their learning, but also to taste of the excess of the king's table. Despite the temptation, these wise young men were determined not to fall into defilement. God blessed their obedience with "unusual aptitude," and they excelled in their learning.

Daniel proceeded to succeed, offering interpretations of the king's dreams and receiving due recognition. However, despite his faithfulness, Daniel and his friends were still persecuted - his friends with the fiery furnace, and Daniel later with the lion's den. We are never beyond being persecuted for our faith, even by people who have recognized the Lord's hand in our lives.

However, I am so encouraged by this faithful man. He continued to follow the Lord throughout his life, not doubting in God's sovereignty or swaying in the face of torture or death. May I learn to be faithful no matter what. May I trust in God's sovereignty whether I'm 28 or 88. 

What events in the Bible have you never really put together? Take some time to review the context of these accounts, as it will undoubtedly teach you something new and profound.

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