“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you.” (I Peter4:12-13 NKJV)
Living for God can be dangerous to your health. Or at least that’s what some would conclude when reading several of the Bible’s stories. The three Hebrews were thrown into a fiery furnace. Daniel spent a night with hungry lions. John the Baptist was imprisoned and beheaded, and Paul was stoned and left for dead.
Bad things really do happen to good people, and it’s easy for us to question why. If I’m God’s child, why doesn’t He step in and stop these things from happening? Doesn’t He love me? Doesn’t He care?
I recently read through the Book of Daniel again and noted how the faith of Daniel and his friends was tested time and again. Taken from their homeland as young men, probably still teenagers, they were dropped into a different culture and expected to adapt to their new reality. Yet, despite every difficulty they faced, they never wavered in their devotion to the One True God. Although they lived many centuries ago, their persistence and faith still inspire us. While thinking about all they had endured, I realized that their trials became their testimony.
When King Darius came to check on him after Daniel’s night with the lions, he asked, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” (Daniel 6:20 NKJV). Daniel was able to answer, “My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths, so that they have not hurt me, because I was found innocent before Him; and also, O king, I have done no wrong before you” (verse 22).
What a testimony of God’s power and faithfulness Daniel gave to this pagan king.
I have met some modern-day Daniels. No, they weren’t carried away to a strange land or put into a pit with lions, but they have endured extremely difficult situations. Where was God while all this happened? Right beside them, lending His strength and guiding their steps.
On a recent Sunday, I watched a lady with eyes closed and hands raised as she poured herself out in worship. She has always been a worshiper, even when I knew she was going through a hurricane-force storm. This mom also taught her young daughters how to worship through the family’s adversities. Now the storm has passed, her marriage is restored, and she continues to worship. She can testify to God’s faithfulness.
No one goes through life without struggles and hardships. Job 14:1 tells us, “Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.” We live in a fallen world and bad things will happen. But we have a choice. Do we give up on God and grow bitter? Or do we hold onto our faith and grow better? If we choose better over bitter, God will use our trials to strengthen our faith, develop our character, teach us endurance, and shape us into His image. As we allow Him to work in our life, He will transform our trials into a beautiful testimony that will encourage others.
(Other scriptures to increase your faith: Genesis 50:20, Psalm 121, I Peter 4:12-13, Hebrews 13:5-6, James 1:2-4.)