Just when things seemed to be turning around in her life, she was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. It was aggressive! The outlook was bleak. I had an underlying fear that she would be despaired and or blame God. We talked about the difficulty of trusting God when it seemed like life was composed of a series of harder and harder trials.
We asked ourselves, “What does faithfulness look like and sound like, especially in times of significant difficulty? What are some examples in the scriptures?” We came up with numerous examples, but were significantly impressed by one in the book of Daniel.
Three young Hebrew men demonstrate “jaw-dropping faithfulness” in the book of Daniel in chapter 3. These Hebrew men who worshiped God were commanded to bow down to an idol representing the king and his power.
Such bowing proclaimed that they honored this image, the sovereignty of this king, above all. It proclaimed that they gave him ultimate value in their life and pledged their allegiance and obedience to him above all others. The king boldly challenged the God of these men when he said, “what god can deliver you from my hand, Dan. 3:15.” The consequence for refusing to bow was to be thrown into a fiery furnace.
When confronted by the king their response was a declaration of their faithfulness, their loyalty and their value of the living God. They said:
“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
Such a response is amazing! They had no foreknowledge that God would actually save them from being burned alive! These men believed in the power of God to miraculously save them, but more importantly, they knew the wonder and of the living God through their covenant relationship with Him. As a result, honoring their God was of greater value than any suffering or even loss of life. That is faithfulness to God.
Faithfulness is loving God with your whole heart, soul, mind and body even when God does not make everything “better” in your life. In the account in Daniel 3, faithfulness sounded like proclaiming that the God who created the heavens and earth is the only God, and it looked like stepping forward into the fire with a heart filled with faith in God.
Faithfulness is steadfast faith in the power of God to do anything; to change a situation, a heart, a mind or an outcome; to heal; to mend; to restore/to resurrect a life, a spirit or a heart. Faith is belief in the supreme power of God and the absolute love of God.
Faithfulness Comes From…
Faithfulness is trust and loyalty that comes from knowing the truth about God’s character, and from having experienced the presence of His character, love and power in your life.
Such faith enables one to see beyond the current situation and its consequences, and trust God in them, as these three young men did. They had no definitive guarantee that they would be delivered from being burned alive, yet they knew God deeply enough to take a stand and be faithfully devoted to Him.
After the fact, we know God delivered them, but also that He walked in the fire with them. The king was amazed!
“Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God,” (or a son of the gods) Dan. 3:25.
It is an important fact that before their deliverance was a reality, these three young men choose to be faithful to God. They made a faith filled declaration about the character and nature of their God and acted on it.
What Does Your Faith Say About God?
After reflecting on this account of faithfulness in Daniel with my friend, I needed to ask myself some questions. Perhaps you will find these questions helpful to you, also.
- What does my faith say about my relationship with God?
- Do my words and actions proclaim that I personally know God’s character?
- Do I believe God will help me, that He will deliver me, that He will change my circumstances, or that He will “presto chango” change my character?
- What do I proclaim about God when He does not answer me the way I think He should? Do I fault Him? Do I no longer trust in His goodness and His righteous character? Do I accuse Him of a lack of love?
- Do I stomp my foot and say “No” and miss seeing Him in the fire with me?
- Am I genuinely faithful, or do I merely “wear my faith on the surface”?
These three young men showed me and my friend how do go deeper with God. Sometimes it takes the fire to help me see God.
I encourage you to pause and reflect on the depth and veracity of your faith in God in times when things are “going your way,” and in times when your character, your pride, your security, your well- being are challenged.