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An excellent way to understand the meaning of faith is to consider the examples of the Bible, like the prophet Daniel - who trusted and obeyed God, placing his life in His hands.
All of us, as Christians, face times of challenge to our faith; times when we must make difficult decisions to affirm our convictions. These crisis moments help us asses our level of commitment, prove us before God, and serve as a testament to witnesses who see us face these challenges and who learn from our example.
Many of us have already lost friends, jobs and other life opportunities because of our faith in God, and for our commitment to His law. Those of us who are baptised undertook our commitment with a willingness to sacrifice everything, even our lives, to honour God. However, are we really so convicted that we would stand firm in life-and-death circumstances?
The Biblical story of Daniel, also incorporating the account of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, is one that we know well. These are stories that many of us would have first heard as children, before we were able to analyse them in a real-world context, and put ourselves in the heroes’ shoes.
When we compare the circumstances of the book of Daniel with the reality of our own lives, it is striking for these men to have trusted in the unseen God with such unshakable faith that they were willing to be thrown into a fiery furnace (Daniel 3:12-29) and a lion’s den (Daniel 6:10-23) to honour God. If we were faced with the same dire circumstances, would we have stood firm in our convictions? Or might we not have preferred just to bow to the statue, or to pray in secret? We may think that surely God would understand such circumstances as being an “ox in the ditch” situation.
Although God’s instructions for day-to-day life are very clear, we may still struggle to implement His laws in small ways, sometimes trifling over ambiguities and, at other times, concluding that God will understand our need to make an exception in ‘unusually difficult circumstances’.
We do, indeed, live in a messy world with increasing ambiguities and expectations of leniency in all areas of life. Yet, in the reality of obedience to God, there is coming a time when some of His people will face death for their faith. Those who will be counted among the saints are those who ask for God’s strength and deliverance, and who adhere to God’s law, whatever the cost.
It can be uncomfortable to dwell on the potential outcomes of this frightening time to come. However, by loving God, having a strong relationship with Him and keeping His commandments, we will be given all the resources we need in our time of crisis to step out in real faith, knowing that the God in whom we trust will raise us up.
Unshakable faith is built through small acts of faithful obedience. Let us consider our obedience to God now, in the everyday challenges we face, so that God can build in us a truly unshakable foundation of faith. May God give us the confidence and strength to follow Him until the end.