Walking Through Fire

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Walking Through Fire

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We all have dreams in life. Our dreams serve to excite us and help us to look forward and plan our future. But sometimes we have to face difficult obstacles. These can be due to a change in our parents' jobs, where we live or perhaps even changes in our family. These challenges may even force us to modify or change our dreams. How do you respond to these kinds of difficulties?

Walking Through FireWe may be afraid of them, but God tells us He does not want us to worry, for He will provide for us just as He provides for the birds and all of creation (Matthew 6:25-32). God has also given us examples that show we can have success—if we obey Him and have faith in Him.

Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego

The book of Daniel tells the story of a group of young men who were facing a challenge they could never have imagined. They had been taken from their homes and families and placed into a foreign land where even the food they were to eat was new to them.

This is the story of four friends—we know them as Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego. These young men may have been only about 15 years old when they were taken from their homes as the Babylonians conquered their nation of Judah (Daniel 1:1-6). Instead of becoming slaves with the rest of their people, they were chosen and probably forced to enter a three-year training system in order to become a select group of servants to directly serve the king of Babylon (verse 4).

This school only selected the best and brightest young people and then provided them with the best education available in the world at that time. Not only would they have to learn vast amounts of information and have it available for instant recall, but—if they succeeded—they would ultimately stand directly before the king.

They were immediately forced to change their names, learn a foreign language and they were even told what they had to eat (verses 7 and 8).

The four friends quickly realized they had to figure out how to be excused from eating foods contrary to their normal Jewish diet. The leader of the school did not know what to do with their request—it seems he had never been faced with someone refusing to simply follow instructions, and he was understandably apprehensive. After all, if these four students did not remain healthy, he would be blamed.  

So what did Daniel and his friends do? Did they just demand their way no matter what, or did they give up and just eat the king's food? No, Daniel and his friends had established a good relationship with the servant who was directly over them and stood out as good students. They asked him to put their diet to the test. God backed them up and they appeared healthier than the other students after just 10 days.

Facing the fiery furnace

Next we see three of these friends facing a second and much more difficult challenge. By this time they had been promoted to positions of power in Babylon (Daniel 2:49). But now they were being tested by a new law telling them to worship an idol the king had set up (Daniel 3:1-7). If they didn't worship the idol, they would be burned alive in the fiery furnace.

How would you face this situation? I am sure this new law and the fierceness of their enemies, along with the king's response, must have given them some hesitation and fear about what to do next.

Yet they didn't pause, but gave an answer without wavering (Daniel 3:16-18). Even when the king confronted them, they did not hesitate and they instantly knew what their answer had to be. Even though they knew they might lose everything, they stated they would remain faithful to what they believed. They were fully aware that this decision could cost them their lives.

Miraculously, God spared them, and not even the hair on their heads was singed when they walked through the fire (Daniel 3:27)!


How do these examples fit into your life today? Thankfully there are few times in today's world were we are faced with a decision that could cost us our lives. But there are times when we all have to decide whether to follow what we believe in and build righteous character—or just go along with what everyone else is doing.

Perhaps your challenges include deciding to not work a shift on a Friday night—even when you are told to do it as a new employee. Or you could be faced with having to ask your professor if you can take a test at a different time because it conflicts with the Sabbath or God's Holy Days.

It is often easiest to just smile, not ask and take the shift or the test—perhaps preferring not to make a teacher or boss angry at your request. You may even feel bad because it could cause extra work for someone else.

As I was thinking about the choices that Daniel's friends had to face, I spoke with a man in the Church of God. He had come to understand the command to rest on the Sabbath while he was in medical school. As anyone in school today knows, professors and administrators often are not very understanding of those who don't want to do things like everyone else. But this man knew what God wanted him to do. So he informed his professors that he would no longer be able to take his exams on Saturday—as he had done previously—due to his new faith. He offered to take his tests early and went to each of his professors and deans individually—carefully explaining his belief. Still they told him he would fail and that it was not possible to continue in medical school.

He stepped out on faith and didn't show up for his tests on the scheduled Saturday. When he returned to class on the following Monday, he was told to show up on Tuesday—to take the tests with 10 other students. God had intervened on his behalf. He is now a doctor and remains in the Church of God.
How did these men—Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abed-Nego and this doctor—serve God? They were diligent to do their part to resolve the situation by going above and beyond their duty, but they also demonstrated great faith in God, who rewarded their actions and their faith.

Preparing our faith

Faith is essential for success. We all want to obey God—to do the right thing. But often we have to make choices to either take the test or face the consequences. These choices are easier if we have prepared our faith. Have we taken the time to prove ourselves to our teachers so that they are willing to work with us? Have we decided that even if we are rejected, we will find another way? Or do we compromise our beliefs so we can take the test and skip going to church?

We also need to be showing ourselves as people who are willing to go the extra mile. Our faith gives us the strength to do that. Daniel and his friends were willing to take the extra examination in order to prove they could survive without the king's food. The doctor offered to take the tests early. These things would definitely have put them at a disadvantage when compared to their fellow classmates.

In the end we know God wants us to be happy—after all, we are His children and He only wants what is best for us. Daniel and his three friends became leaders in the empire of Babylon. And you can succeed too. You can attend the most challenging schools—such as Harvard or Stanford. You can become successful businesspeople or doctors. You don't have to compromise right dreams and ambitions. Don't underestimate yourself and tell yourself you can't do it. If you have faith in God, then you already are successful. (To understand more, you may wish to request or read online our booklet You Can Have Living Faith.)

So how should we face the challenges that threaten to prevent us from succeeding? We can have faith that God is always there to help us to overcome difficult circumstances and succeed. For as God promises, "With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible" (Mark 10:27). VT