Text: Daniel 3:1-30
“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” —Isaiah 43:2
In the 4th century, an early Christian leader stood up against the heresy of his times. This “Black Dwarf,” as his enemies often called him, was exiled five times by four Roman emperors. Athanasius stood firmly in his beliefs even when others called him arrogant, stubborn, and narrow-minded. When a concerned colleague warned, “The whole world is against you,” Athanasius replied, “Then it is Athanasius against the world.”
It takes courage to stand alone, and oftentimes we find ourselves in situations and places where our faith requires us to do so—unless you are living in some quarantined spiritual bubble or hiding out in a religious bunker sheltered from the rest of the world.
When your faith requires you to stand alone, how do you respond? Is this a comfortable place for you?
In our quest to be liked and accepted, it is reassuring to remember the words of our Lord: “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first” and “a servant is not greater than his master” (John 15:18, 20). What Jesus faced, his followers can expect to face.
In Daniel 3, three young teenagers walked with God in the midst of a godless society. Their faith required them to stand alone in a way that jeopardized their very lives. When the narcissistic King Nebuchadnezzar commanded everyone in his kingdom to bow down and worship a golden image of himself, these three teenagers refused to give in to this blatant form of idolatry.
They knew full well that the penalty for disregarding the king’s order was death, but they were ready to give up their lives before they were going to give up their faith (Daniel 3:17-18).
Consequently, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were tied up and thrown into a fiery furnace, heated seven times hotter than usual. But as the Babylonian king looked on, he saw not just the three—but four—men in the furnace, unfazed by the flames and walking around freely.
It’s assumed that Jesus was the fourth man in the furnace that day—the same Jesus who walks with you through your fire. We should never compromise our faith in fear of having to walk alone or suffer hardship. Isaiah assures us “When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you” (Isaiah 43:2).
Where might your faith be requiring you to stand alone in this hour? Wherever God calls you to stand, remember that it is He who stands there with you! Think about that as you seek to abide in Him this week.
Heavenly Father, we live in a world that seems increasingly hostile to our faith. Let us not return hostility for hostility, but in the manner of our Lord Jesus Christ, overcome evil with good. And when our faith requires us to stand alone, may we stand with uncompromising resolve and transcending peace that you go with us through the fire. In Jesus’ name, Amen..
Questions for Reflection and/or Family Discussion:
- Have you ever faced a hardship that felt like it was you against the world? Share your story.
- When has your faith ever required you to stand alone?
- Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were prepared to die for their faith even if God didn’t show up to rescue them (Daniel 3:17-18). What do you suppose gave them this kind of resolve? Do you see this kind of faith prevalent in our society today? Why or why not?
- Does your faith have an “if not” clause in it? “Our God is able to deliver us,” is preferable. But if He doesn’t, are you still going to worship and serve Him? Explain.
- Read Romans 8:35-39. What confidence can this passage afford you in times of hardship, distress, or persecution?
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