I just wanted to spend one more day in the book of Daniel to share a couple of final thoughts--for now...
At the end of chapter 2 in the book that bears his name, Daniel is promoted to a high position--as ruler over the entire province of Babylon and placed in charge of all its wise men.
And while things seem to end on a positive note, chapter 3 starts with a test: Nebuchadnezzar is commanding everyone in his kingdom to bow down to a huge image he had made out of gold.
Reading back over the story of the three young Hebrew slaves, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego sacrificing themselves to the flames to stand up for the One True God, the overarching question I come away with is:
Where was Daniel?
You see, these three young men had been led in a mighty and courageous way by their best friend, Daniel, one, who like them, decided to set himself apart, to live differently, to lead a life worthy of the calling that God had placed upon him, but why did he suddenly disappear in chapter 3 of this book?
Why had God removed this pillar of faith from these three young men's lives at such a critical moment?
Sometimes, without realizing it, we make our friend's faith our own, I think especially as teenagers and young adults when all that matters to us is the opinions of our friends, we let that override a true, personal relationship that God desires to have with each one of us. We see Johnny or Betty or Jill's victories and claim them as our own and we forget that God has amazing things in store for us as well.
I love that He is a personal God, don't you?
He singles us out, calls us by name and makes all sorts of amazing promises to us, that are just as applicable today as they were for Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, promises like this:
Isaiah 43:2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.
You see, there are no promises in the Bible that God will exempt us from these flames, the verse says when--three times. We are not immune to trial, heartache, struggle, and pressure.
Why does God allow this?
1) For His glory to be revealed in an even bigger, truer way.
2) For Him to allow Himself to speak, sometimes our world can get so cluttered, so distracted with our own self-speak that we miss what he is trying to say and what he is trying to do in a specific instance
3) For our trust to grow and grow and grow. Jeremiah 17:8 They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.
4) For our faith to become personal. Without personal testimony, our faith becomes flabby. We lack the sincere belief that all things are possible with God unless we've experienced it for ourselves.
Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
God is Mighty, He is Sovereign and He is Good, my prayer for you is that He reveals himself to you in each one of these areas.
Personally, I had to face one of the biggest testings of trust in my own life without family or friends to surround me, the stakes were high, and for about 10 months, I woke up every morning and immediately put my face to the ground, asking God for his help and strength.
God showed up in my flames and He will show up for you, too.
Have you personally been through an almost overwhelming trial like this without good friends or family to surround you? When geography or circumstance kept you from physically having someone next to you that you knew could be your strength? If so, how did God show himself faithful in those times when you felt like an island?