Photo by Anders Nord on Unsplash
We live amidst pain and suffering as a result of our fallen, sinful world.
No one likes to suffer or be in pain. Yet no one is spared. Christians, especially, should expect suffering in their lives and not expect to be exempted if we are serving Him or have been faithful to Him.
In Daniel 6, we learn that even a faithful servant like Daniel had to go through personal suffering in order that God may be glorified.
At this time, Daniel would have been about 80 years old, and he was serving King Darius of Medo-Persia, who had defeated the Babylonian empire (Daniel 6:1-17). He was one of Darius’ 3 top administrators, so naturally, others were jealous of him. They plotted to get him killed and came up with a plan.
We should not be surprised if we have to suffer.
Because Daniel was a man of integrity and they could not charge him with corruption, the attack had to be on his personal allegiance to God.
So his enemies came up with a cunning plot. They unanimously proposed to the king that for 30 days, anyone who prayed to any other being except to Darius would be thrown into the lions’ den.
When Daniel learned about the decree, he went home to his room and prayed.
It was his daily discipline to pray three times a day and to give thanks to God. His enemies headed straight for his home and found him on his knees, praying and asking God for help. They reported Daniel to the king and waited in expectation. According to their laws, the decree could not be repealed and Daniel would have to suffer the consequences.
The king was distressed, but he could not reverse the decree. He only hoped that Daniel’s God would rescue him. Throughout his predicament, Daniel did not resist – not even when he was thrown into the lions’ den.
Expect the crises
As Christians, we should not be surprised if we have to suffer even when we are faithful and committed in our walk with the Lord. We cannot think that because we are serving the Lord faithfully, we will be exempt from sufferings.
That would be a transactional relationship with the Lord, not a love relationship with Him.
“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” (1 Peter 4:12-13)
How could Daniel go through this crisis without a fight? How could he be so calm at such a time?
It had to do with his solid foundation in the Lord.
Our first response to a crisis will show whose we are.
When he was much younger, he had made a resolution to stay faithful to God – no matter what.
When there was a national threat against the wise men in Babylon, he called his community and, together, they pleaded with God for mercy and help. He openly prayed three times a day.
His life was wrapped up in God. Daniel would trust God with his life – even if it meant death!
What is your first response to crisis?
Your initial response will show what’s inside you: It shows your inner life and true faith in the Lord. A solid foundation in Christ will help us persevere in times of personal suffering.
King Darius cancelled his meal and entertainment for the evening. He had lost his appetite. He returned to his room but he could not sleep. (Daniel 6:18-28)
Suffering is part and parcel of living and growing in the faith.
He kept thinking about Daniel: “Is he going to be OK? Has he been eaten by the lions? Did his God rescue him?”
At the first light of dawn, he hurried to the lions’ den and shouted in an anguished voice: “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually been able to rescue you from the lions?”
Daniel answered: “My God has sent his angel and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O King.”
When Daniel came out of the lion’s den, the king found no wound on him because he had trusted in his God. Then the king punished those who plotted against Daniel and gave praise to God.
Tested by fire
How we handle our suffering shows whose we are.
The way to go through suffering is through spiritual perseverance.
Our initial and subsequent responses show who we are on the inside – it shows the level of our faith and trust in the Lord, especially when we are faced with a personal crisis which involves deep suffering, including the threat of death.
Our faithfulness to God is a testimony to unbelievers of God’s faithfulness to us.
No one likes to suffer – especially if the person who suffers is ourselves.
Yet suffering is part and parcel of living and growing in the faith. No one is spared. How we go through suffering will show our inner life: How much we trust God for our life, how much we desire our life more than God’s purpose, and where we place our ultimate trust.
The way to go through suffering is through spiritual perseverance, which can be developed only through the daily discipline of spending time with God. May we be found faithful even in our suffering.
Reflection and Discussion
- What spiritual discipline are you building in your life? Does it help you deepen your faith foundation in the Lord?
- How has your personal suffering, both past and present, brought glory to God?
- How will you trust God to see you through your personal suffering so that others may see God through your life?