The Christian life is hard! Jesus warned us! “Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it” (Matthew 7:13–14). “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23). On the night that He was betrayed, our Lord declared, “Remember the word I spoke to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20).
If you’re a Christian living in north or west Africa, the Middle East, Russia, China, India, North Korea, or many other “hot spots,” you understand Jesus’ words at a much more personal level than most of us living in the United States.
Daniel understood. He had been forcibly removed from his home and deported to Babylon where he lived as a slave to a pagan, evil regime. But even in a bad spot, Daniel worked hard, lived right, and sought to glorify his God.
“Daniel distinguished himself above the administrators and satraps because he had an extraordinary spirit, so the king planned to set him over the whole realm. The administrators and satraps, therefore, kept trying to find a charge against Daniel regarding the kingdom. But they could find no charge or corruption, for he was trustworthy, and no negligence or corruption was found in him” (Daniel 6:3–4). Daniel was faithful to God, and God faithfully blessed and used Daniel as a shining light in a dark place.
Daniel’s detractors conspired, finagled and manipulated until the king signed an irrevocable edict that “anyone who petitions any god or man except ... the king, will be thrown into the lions’ den” (Daniel 6:7). There are similar laws being enforced in our world today. What did Daniel do? “When Daniel learned that the document had been signed, he went into his house. The windows in its upstairs room opened toward Jerusalem, and three times a day he got down on his knees, prayed, and gave thanks to his God, just as he had done before”(Daniel 6:10).
The first-century church was ordered “not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. Peter and John answered them, ‘Whether it’s right in the sight of God for us to listen to you rather than to God, you decide; for we are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard’ ” (Acts 4:19–20). Would we be so bold?
Daniel was arrested for praying in the privacy of his own home. The penalty was enforced as God’s humble servant was tossed into the lion’s cage. “A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den. The king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the signet rings of his nobles” (Daniel 6:17). The following morning, when Daniel was found miraculously alive, he testified, saying, “My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths; and they haven’t harmed me” (Daniel 6:22).
Jesus promised, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Like Daniel, we can trust Him!
All Scripture quotations, except as otherwise noted, are from
Holman Bible Publishers’ Christian Standard Bible.