At the end of the 10 days they looked better and healthier than all the young men who were eating the king’s food. So the guard continued to remove their food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables. Daniel 1:15-16.
As Christian lawyers, we often find ourselves in situations similar to those of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. The Introduction detailed the difficulty in standing for/with Jesus when society remains literally hell-bent on dissuading allegiance to Him. The examples of these four young Jewish men give us insights on how our resolve can be inspired by cohorts and inspired by leaders. Past “faith successes” can also give us needed inspiration.
There is a relevant back story to the literal stand taken by Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Daniel 3 by refusing to bow down to the king’s golden statue. We saw its genesis two chapters earlier when Daniel lead his three cohorts to remain true to Jewish dietary regulations. As Paul Harvey would say, the “rest of the story” is quoted above. Success. The vegetarian diet experiment worked, and the four young men were visibly healthier than their peers.
A “faith success” is not a matter of personal achievement. Rather, it occurs when God meets us at our crisis of belief, when we act in “assurance of what we hope for” and find that He is faithful to those who remain faithful to Him.
Recall that God addressed Moses’ initial hesitancy by turning his staff into a snake and temporarily afflicting his hand with leprosy. Likewise, Gideon’s weak faith was strengthened when God kindly obliged his requests regarding the fleece and the ground. Both men became tremendous instruments for God, experiencing many episodes of “faith success” after having been encouraged by God’s prior demonstrations.
Seeing God move invigorates the observer, often inspiring future acts of faith. There is no doubt that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s subsequent refusal to worship a statute and Daniel’s subsequent refusal to worship the king were inspired by their prior “faith success” with the Jewish dietary restrictions.
These accounts also show that these future acts of faith are often bolder than what came before. Moses and Gideon were timid leaders whose courage grew as they experienced “faith successes”. Daniel and his three cohorts were also emboldened by experiencing God, progressing from refusing royal delicacies to rejecting royal commands, come what may.
As with most things in life, our confidence and competence increase when repeating something we have previously done. This truth applies to our faith journeys as Christian lawyers. As you face your next crisis of belief, remember your prior faith successes. If you can’t recall one, let this moment provide you with the first of many.
Take a stand for Jesus. Faith success begets future, bolder faith success.