by Pastor Leo Launio
When the challenge gets difficult and the burden becomes unbearable, what keeps you going?
A student at the Ohio University, right after completing his registration, put over the door of his dormitory room the letter V. Without knowing what that letter V represented, he experienced all sorts of ridicule and faced a series of questions and allegations from students around him. But he paid no attention to either, nor would he disclose the secret of the letter.
When his four years were over, and graduation day came, that student was appointed to deliver the valedictory address. Then the mystery of that letter V was revealed. It stood for valedictorian Despite hardships and ridicules, that letter on the door held before him during his four years the ideal that he had set for himself.
Some put up the letter M that stands for money. Others put up letter F, for fame. Others put up letter S, which may stand either for self or for service. Whatever it may be, it is a good idea once in a while to step outside your door and look at the letter you have put there. It may be that when you realize what it is you will want to change it.
In the Scriptures, we find the story of Daniel and his three friends. They were among the young men that King Nebuchadnezzar carried from Jerusalem to Babylon. Separated from their families and uprooted from the city they loved, these boys endured hardships and loneliness. But in spite of all these, there is one letter that they all put up at the door frames of their mind. It is a letter F. And it stands for faithfulness to God and His teachings.
There are three recorded events in the lives of these young men that proved their faithfulness.
First, as part of their training, they were appointed to eat the king’s meat and drink his choicest wine for the purpose of providing the best nourishment for the tasks ahead. But knowing what the king’s meat consists, and to the point of risking his life and that of the prince of eunuchs, Daniel purposed in his heart not to defile himself with the king’s meat. Instead, he requested for a vegetable soup and water.
Second, Daniel’s three friends – Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego – were caught not bowing to the statue that King Nebuchadnezzar has erected. This act was direct disobedience to the king’s command and it carried the death penalty.
When given the chance to reconsider their action, the three friends responded to the king, “If we are thrown into the fire, our God Whom we serve is able to save us from it. And He will save us from your hand, O king. But even if He does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the object of gold that you have set up.”
Filled with fury, King Nebuchadnezzar commanded that the fiery furnace be heated seven times and commanded the most mighty men of his kingdom to bind these three friends.
Third, to malign Daniel’s character and remove him from power, his conspirators devised a plan by suggesting to King Darius to make a law forbidding anyone within the next thirty days from praying to any god except to the king. Anyone disobeying this law will be thrown into the lions’ den. Without further investigation, the king agreed.
What was Daniel’s reaction? “When Daniel knew that the king had written his name on this law, he went into his house where, in his upper room, he had windows open toward Jerusalem. There he got down on his knees three times each day, praying and giving thanks to his God, as he had done before.”
Against the most powerful kings of their time, and against the threat of losing their lives, Daniel and his three friends adhered to the letter that they have pasted in their minds – letter F for faithfulness.
Amidst the storms of life, may all of us emulate Daniel and his three friends by remaining faithful to God. Be like Daniel!