We’ve all heard that famous saying: “Stand up for what’s right, even if you’re standing alone.” It makes us feel motivated, heroic and even proud. But, is it really that easy? Are we actually willing to stand by the things we believe in when it means being made fun of, losing the things we love or placing our lives in danger?
These are some of the tough questions faced in Daniel 6. While living in Babylon during the exile of Judah, Daniel is promoted to governor and receives high favor from the new king, Darius. But not everyone is pleased. Filled with jealousy, his fellow governors want to see him destroyed. But without any reason to condemn him, they decide to attack the one thing Daniel values most – his faith. They convince Darius to sign a law allowing anyone who prays to someone other than the king to be thrown into the den of lions to be killed. Despite being fully aware of the new decree, Daniel continues his daily prayer time only to be caught by the Babylonian authorities. Daniel is thrown into the lions’ den, but when the king comes to see the damage the next morning, he is stunned to find Daniel alive and completely unharmed. Overwhelmed by God’s miraculous protection, he orders Daniel’s accusers to be thrown to the lions and writes a new decree ordering everyone in the kingdom to honor the God of Israel.
Are we actually willing to stand by the things we believe in even when it means being made fun of, losing something we love or placing our lives in danger?
There’s a reason why this is one of the Bible’s most well-known stories. Daniel’s pride, actions and faith are tested in such a way that it forces us to consider our own willingness to stand out as followers of God during difficult times. Consider, for instance, the beginning of the story. We’re told that Daniel’s promotion is a result of his loyalty and other “exceptional qualities” (v.3). In other words, living a godly life causes Daniel to stand out from the crowd. He didn’t allow his position to cause arrogance, but instead he remained so humble that even his enemies couldn’t find fault!
Is that how we’re living on a regular basis? Do we seek to be modest, kind and loyal even when the situation isn’t ideal? If we allow our behavior to be inconsistent with our faith, then other people have every right to question or mock us. But if, like Daniel, we always live honestly and with integrity, we have no reason to feel ashamed.
What if upholding that Christ-like character meant disobeying the law or putting ourselves in danger? Would we still stand strong? It’s easier said than done. Imagine Daniel’s story in our current society. What if your school decided to expel anyone who thanked God for their lunch in the cafeteria? It’s probably much easier to forget the prayer then to be kicked out of school, right? But sometimes standing up for God means not taking the easy way out. If we truly devote ourselves to living for Him and understanding His word, He will give us the strength we need to overcome such pressure. Certainly we’re to be obedient and respectful of our authority figures, but when it means disobeying God, we should not give in.
But haven’t we noticed that we tend to only trust in God when we think there will be a positive outcome? For Daniel, trust meant being thrown to a bunch of ravenous lions! In his mind, death was inevitable, but the cost of his life was still not enough to disown his loyalty to God. With extreme faith and courage, he put all his trust in God to do whatever He saw fit.
Are we willing to do the same? Or are we so scared of our fate, that we’re unable to trust God to handle it? Remember Paul’s words in Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” In other words, yes – bad things can happen to good people, but there are always reasons why. Sometimes our troubles are a form of discipline or a way to bring us back to God if we’ve fallen away. At times we struggle so God can show us how far we’ve come on our journey with Him. Other times, trials are simply a test to see if we’ll stand strong in our faith and show God’s glory through our response. When we live as His children, Satan is threatened by our involvement in the kingdom, so he’ll undoubtedly view us as the greater targets. The Christian life isn’t easy. It doesn’t always make sense and it may not seem fair, but when we’re living for God, we can always believe that things will work out for the best and according to His perfect plan.
Daniel’s pride, actions and faith are tested in such a way that it forces us to consider our own willingness to stand out as followers of God during difficult times.
This is certainly true in Daniel’s case. His admirable character was so impressive to King Darius, who not only punished Daniel’s accusers but also shared the glory of God with his entire kingdom. Don’t forget that our actions will also be seen by impressionable people. One of the main reasons God puts tests of faith in our lives is to show His glory to others and if we live faithfully, we can have a lasting impact on those around us.
Take this moment to re-evaluate your own faith. Are you standing up for God on an everyday basis? Don’t be afraid to carry your Bible with you in school, wear a Christian T-shirt, invite your non-Christian friends to youth group or stand up for the student that doesn’t seem to fit in. These may seem like little things to do, but other people are sure to notice, and when you feel comfortable with those little steps, try something bigger so you continue to grow. Don’t give into your fears and follow men! Let Daniel inspire you to stand up for God!