二○一八年六月六月三十日／七月一日 Click here for English version
Hardship: The Door to Greater Blessings
Rev Gordon Siu
It is human nature to try to steer clear of hardship. But by the wisdom and lovingkindness of God, His abundant blessings are often hidden behind hardship. Without tackling hardship, we will not be able to receive more of God’s grace, and will only live a shallow life for a long time.
Chapters 1 to 6 of the Book of Daniel give deeper insight into how God uses hardship to bless those who trust in Him, and who are ready to rise up against adversities.
1. Daniel and his three friends, who were brought into the Babylonian king’s service, faced the choice of whether to defile themselves with the royal food and wine of the pagan king. It is like some Christians today being asked to take part in a traditional Chinese ritual to worship Guan Di (關帝) at the start of a business. Despite the pressure, Daniel was firm in not defiling himself. He was convinced that by the power of God, vegetables and water will give him and his friends a good appearance. After that, the Bible tells us, "To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning" (Daniel 1:17).
2. King Nebuchadnezzar, angry and furious that his astrologists could not interpret his dream, ordered the execution of all wise men of Babylon. Men were also sent out to kill Daniel and his friends. In the face of great hardship, Daniel and his friends prayed to God, and the mystery was revealed to him. After Daniel had interpreted the dream, "the king placed Daniel in a high position and lavished many gifts on him. He made him ruler over the entire province of Babylon…" (2:48).
3. The king then set up an image of gold and made his people worship the image. Daniel's three friends refused to obey, and suffered the misfortune of being put into a blazing furnace. (Today, we may lose our job for holding on to the principles of our faith, but still we won’t be put to death.) Amazingly, God protected those who feared Him. The king clearly saw that "the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them" (3:27). So the king decreed that nothing should be said against the God of the three friends, and he also "promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon" (3:30).
4. It was recorded in Daniel 6 how the administrators and satraps were jealous of Daniel and falsely accused him so he was put in the lions' den. But in the end, "no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God" (6:23). The king also decreed that "in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. 'For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed'" (6:26). After that, "Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian" (6:28).
With the mightiness, wisdom and power of God, hardship is nothing to fear. Trusting in God is like a key which opens one door of appalling hardship after another, taking us into a land of greater abundance.