Being faithful in the midst of difficulty is not the norm in today’s world of self-centeredness. It takes extraordinary character to persevere and not waver in our convictions even when the circumstances are not our fault. I would like to think that I have not done stupid things in my life that have cost others hardship, but if I were to be totally honest (and hey, why not… I am not using my real name here), I can say that I am responsible for a great many people’s hardship in this life because of very stupid decisions I have made.
When we make poor decisions in our lives, inevitably that are innocent bystanders that get hurt or suffer as a result of our actions. Many times when this happens, there is nothing we can do about it. The results of our mistakes (if we have any conscience or character remaining at all) is that we will live with the reality that those affected must suffer from our mistakes; and, it can haunt us for life. OK, now the flip side to that.
What if you are the one that sufferings disasters that have happened to you? Events that came to pass as a result of someone else’s sin or abuse or foolish actions that end up leaving us wounded, crippled, suffering, and living in mental or physical pain – or both? This happens, alot! Events haunt us for life even though we have no direct responsibility for those events that take place. It would be nice if we could just shrug off these sorts of hauntings, accept things for the way they are, and just make the best of the situation, wouldn’t it?
I am reminded of the story of the Hebrew prophet Daniel and his friends who were innocent bystanders to events that took place. As a result, they suffered a lifelong exile to Babylon because of Israel’s disobedience to God. The cool thing is that even in the midst of terrible circumstances, they did not let their misfortune destroy their relationship with each other or with God. They knew in their hearts that their lives belonged to God, that He was their source of strength when all of their own strength was gone. The realities of exile and persecution they lived through did not deter them from living successful lives. And, their lives offer great insight about how we can deal with personal calamity or tragedy in our lives if we are the victim or innocent bystanders of someone else’s mistakes that affect us, or their actions or sins against us.
Just a little recap here incase you are rusty on your Old Testament reading to paint you a little portrait of what I am talking about here. After being taken from Jerusalem to Babylon, Daniel and his friends were trained for service in the Babylonian government. Their captors often demanded things of them that were in direct opposition to what they knew God would want or expect out of them. Here it is.
Daniel and his friends were completely devoted to honoring God. They were unshakable in their faith. To protect their relationship with God, Daniel and his friends set clear boundaries for their behavior and what they would and would not do. They made a plan and stuck to it – following God’s plan for their lives regardless of what might come. They chose to be fully committed to their course of action even in the worst of circumstances. Despite their conviction’s conflict with the command of their captors, they stood their ground, and God protected them for their faithfulness to Him.
Something to think about here… Although Daniel and his friends were exiled to Babylon for the sins of their ancestors, they didn’t use that as an excuse to carry on those sins or to feel sorry for themselves. They chose NOT to continue in their forefather’s failures. They instead trusted God to protect them and to redeem their lives from the curse of the sins of others on their lives, and they were determined to live according to God’s precepts and teachings.
I was confronted by a critic of my Christian faith some time ago, and asked what I was willing to die for. I thought for a minute, and replied, “I can’t say for certain what I would die for other than my friends, but I can tell you what I am willing to live for, and His name is Messiah, Savior, Prince of Peace, Son of G-d, the I AM that I AM, the G-d of Israel – Jesus.” Then I asked him, “Who or what besides yourself are YOU willing to live for?”
Take some action: Determine what or who you will live your life for once and for all. Then, sit down and write out your life credo; and what you will be known for, what you will do in your life, and why. Determine once you have written it that you will become the personification of those convictions regardless of popularity, position, or persecution. Strive to remain committed to this new mindset – live it every day in every way. Once you have made this determination, seek out a few close and trusted friends to hold you accountable, then stay the course no matter what as you live it out.