Change: The One Constant
God has designed us to deal with change. We have a natural cooling and heating system that makes us perspire when the outside temperature is too hot and shake when the outside temperature is too cold.
Your body is changing even as you read this article. Old skin cells are dying, and your body is dealing with the change by replacing them. Every 25 days your body gives you a new epidermis or outer layer of skin. God made us physically to deal.
But God has also made believers spiritually to deal with change.
The reality of change is not just seen in our bodies. God’s people have always found it necessary to deal with change, and those changes have often not been comfortable or safe. The Old Testament Prophet Daniel was just a youth when his world was turned upside down. The ancient kingdom of Babylon had defeated and sacked Jerusalem and taken Daniel and others captive. Politically, culturally, and religiously life changed radically. Their lives would never be the same, and the challenges to their faith would be varied and humanly overwhelming. Daniel had gone from being surrounded by a culture ostensibly friendly to all he believed and held dear to being held captive by a culture alien to and at odds with these things.
Daniel and his three Hebrew friends, who would later become famous for their ordeal at the fiery furnace, had no direct influence or control over the political and international events of their day. But their God did. All that was happening was part of Jehovah God’s intricate plan.
So let’s beware of throwing up our hands or acting as though things are out of control when significant life-altering change comes. It is still true that “from Him, and to Him, and through Him are all things”.
The reality of change is as evident as the reasons are varied. But the most significant issue for the child of God is his or her response to it. Daniel could have moaned all over Facebook and wore a placard saying “The end is near!”
There was plenty of reason for pessimism. The people of God were under the foot of a grossly pagan empire. It was not possible to live life as they always had. Their God was mocked and viewed as a religious, political, and cultural nonentity. And who was Daniel or anyone else to try to prove otherwise?
The response of Daniel and his three Hebrew cohorts (popularly known as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) is a vivid object lesson for those of us who claim to know, trust, and follow a sovereign God. Chapter one of Daniel’s prophecy shows us men whose lives were dedicated and submitted to the will of God above all else, including their own comfort and safety. “But Daniel purposed in his heart” that he would obey the revealed will of God. The ESV says,”But Daniel resolved…” The NASB says,”But Daniel made up his mind…” We are reminded of Martin Luther who under pressure from another “supreme court” said; “Here I stand. I can do no other.”
When this world throws the howling gales of persecution at us motivated by cynical and arrogant unbelief, we must stand on the only sure footing. And we had best not wait until the sword is drawn to make that decision. The time for re-examined and renewed commitment is now.
But one gets the sense from the Biblical account of Daniel and the other three Hebrew young men (also see Daniel chapter three) that their responses to the challenges they faced in Babylon were the effect, the expression, even the fruit of something deep, personal, and significant. These men walked with God. They worshiped the Lord and sought His face. Their lives were bound up in their saving knowledge of and genuine walk with Jehovah God. They could no more deny Him than they could deny themselves. The whole of it is summed up in the words of the three Hebrew young men as they faced certain death in a fiery furnace. “If this 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 or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (Daniel 3:17,18)
None of us can know with certainty what the days ahead hold, but if recent events are any indication, it is gut check time for the church of Jesus Christ. The false assurance of a safe world has been eradicated and replaced with the reality that it has no love or loyalty for us. Our friendship and our citizenship are in heaven. These are perilous times, but even more, they are times full of opportunity to shine as lights “in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation…” May God help us to do so for the glory of His great name.
In the love of Christ,