I am by no means a biblical scholar, but I wanted to share a lesson I got from reading Daniel, Chapter 3. I felt it really applied to my life and some mistakes I have made.
Daniel was a Hebrew who was kidnapped and taken to Babylon with many other Hebrews. The Babylonian empire was vast, and Babylon’s siege of Jerusalem began around 600 B.C. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon worshipped many false gods and had no respect–for much of his reign–for the one true God, the God of Israel.
The king once made a golden image to his gods and gave a signal for “the princes, the governors, the captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counselors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces” to bow down before this image. Three Hebrew young men named Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego refused to bow before the image because of their allegiance to God.
Nebuchadnezzar had already proclaimed that anyone who did not bow down and worship the golden image would be thrown into a fiery furnace. Some accusers came forward and told the king that the Hebrews did not fall down to worship the image, so the king had them brought forth. He was enraged, and he asked the Hebrews, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, do not you serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up?”
They answered him, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer you in this matter (did not have to give the answer much thought). If it be so, our God Whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto you, O King, that we will not serve your gods, nor worship the golden image which you have set up.”
Note that they did NOT tell the king, “We know our God will save us from the furnace and not let us be burned.” They did not presume that they would not suffer, only that God would be with them if they suffered.
I have often presumed that an easy way would be made for me. When I married, we faced many financial and health obstacles. I prayed and thought the troubles would lift very soon. After 4 years of marriage, things are better, but we struggled for years and still struggle at times. When I thought that the trial would lift right after marriage, I either heard from a false spirit (1 Kings 22) or told myself what I wanted to hear after I prayed.
I have a health problem that makes pregnancy and its aftermath very difficult. I always assumed that God would heal me before a pregnancy. I have a 2-year-old, and I struggled through the pregnancy and still struggle with this illness. I know that God will heal me, but I thought that an easier way would be made.
Presumption of how God will deliver you often exposes an idol you have made. I am an American– used to fast food, health care on demand, and 24 hour shopping. I am addicted to convenience and comfort, and I loathe uncertainty. I am having to learn to live a life more dependent on God and with more faith to face the unknown. I am having to learn to “count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1).
Quite possibly, the hardship that the Hebrew young men had encountered while being kidnapped helped make them ready for the trial of the fiery furnace. They had seen death and fiery destruction around them and no doubt were afraid at times, but the extreme hardship they endured made them able to give God glory as they faced the potential loss of their lives. I am learning that it is not always God’s will for me to pray to escape a trial (though it can be at times). My first priority should be to give God glory and see His will in all my circumstances. Hardship prepares us to face even bigger trials and attempt great things for God. Hardships can give us greater faith–because we see what God can do in tough circumstances, and then our faith can help strengthen others.
So, don’t presume. Ask God where you are making assumptions and let His Word correct them. Unmet expectations are fertile ground for bitterness, so seek to know God through His Word and the many life stories you encounter inside it.