I’m often entreated to be careful when I travel from Australia to Africa. I’m not denying that Africa has its dangers, and I certainly feel loved to have so many people who care about me and my safety, but we also have to acknowledge that life is not certain.
This world is not a safe place and it is not certain. People driving in a safe manner on their way home have their cars wiped off the road by drunken drivers, horrid crimes are committed against children, public places are bombed, natural disasters strike without warning, and fathers are made redundant. Life does not carry safety guarantees.
Now, I don’t want to stress people out by this blog entry. I’m not one to take unnecessary risks. I do not place myself in harm’s way on purpose. And I’m certainly not brave, or fool-hardy! Rather, I’m trying to lead you to analyse how you respond when challenging circumstances do arise (as they inevitably will). We are all faced with them, and we all have a choice as to how we will respond.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (three young men taken into a foreign land as captives), were faced with a very painful choice. They were offered life (with the condition of bowing before a false god), or certain death in a blazing furnace (if they remained faithful to God).
Nebuchadnezzar [the king] asked them:
“Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up?” (Daniel 3:14).
He then gave the ultimatum:
“Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good. But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?” (Daniel 3:15).
So how did these young men (we’re talking teenagers) respond?
“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18).
Incredible! They did not proclaim God would save them, only that He could save them, if He so chose.
Would you respond with such steadfast faith if faced with a painful choice between faith and personal comfort, or safety?