The Bible story of Daniel and the den of lions has always been one that I see as exceptional, and somewhat not applicable to our current world and my life. The natural question is why then would it be in the Bible?
The truth is we relive this story over and over again throughout our lives. It's that process that is all too familiar as a Christian: Trial, Temptation, Faithfulness and Victory. But as we grow in our faith, the challenges get bigger and bigger, and so it becomes something that needs to be worked at.
So here are the four steps that detail the components of a typical Christian challenge.
It is one of the most inconvenient aspects of the Christian walk. Just as everything is starting to feel as if it was normal, the twist in the plot comes at you from the side. A bit dazzled that things changed so quickly, you don't know what to think of the rapid deterioration of your normality.
Daniel was faced with the trial of others trying to set him up in order that they may benefit from his downfall. Prior to this, Daniel was enjoying his distinguished position and success.
Just when you are at you're weakest you get targeted to walk off on a tangent to what's right. The sneaky thing is that the consequences of this path are camouflaged with all sorts of tasty, colourful looking rewards, which once consumed make you sick.
Daniel faced this when the new decree was brought out not allowing him to pray to God. At this stage there are two options: obey God and accept that his ways are more important and beneficial, or follow the wrong path leading to unhappiness, punishment and suffering.
Hopefully after you realise that you are being prompted with two conflicting options, you seek God's approval about what is right for you in your situation and listen to him. For me this is often the most daunting step of the challenge, but really doesn't need to be.
When you realise that it is only through God that you can get through the tough times, you also realise that the pressure for coming up with the solution is lifted from you. Personally, simply thinking about Jesus and giving him charge over what you should do is all that this part requires.
Daniel did just this when he decided that he would continue to pray to God and ask him for help. And he maintained his trust in God when he was thrown into the lion's den afterwards.
The victory is the best part of the process. I always feel like I am rewarded twice when I do something right: both here on earth and later on in heaven. If we simply obey God and remain faithful to him, he looks after us and rewards us with true happiness and peace and many, many other great blessings. The best part of the victory is that it is guaranteed provided we listen to God.
The victory was given to Daniel when he survived the night in the den of lions and also later on when he prospered. He also was able to witness the bringing of justice of those who were trying to do the wrong thing by him and by God.
I believe that this process needs to be thought about often as it is one of the defining characteristics of the Christian walk. We need to be cautious that we do not get caught off guard by trials and fall into temptation. But if we do, we are fortunate that we also have the confidence that we are forgiven through Jesus in whom we believe.
Tim Robertson is from Sydney, and likes to write about recent learnings in the hope that other people may also benefit from them.
Tim Robertson's previous articles may be found at www.pressserviceinternational.org/tim-robertson.html