Christians in the United States suffered a tragedy several days ago when a man intentionally martyred several Christians in Oregon. He killed them because they confessed to be Christians, because they confessed to worshiping the True and Living God. Many times people can have a crisis of faith in hearing of situations like this. Why did God let this happen? If they were truly worshiping God, why were they not spared?
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, the “Three Holy Youths,” were given the same option–if they declared their faith in the True and Living God they would be met with certain death. Only in their case it was compounded with the taunt that if their God was real or true, he should be able to save them. This is the same question asked after the fact in the Oregon shooting. Pay close attention to what the youths respond:
16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered the king, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to present a defence to you in this matter. 17 If our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire and out of your hand, O king, let him deliver us. 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods and we will not worship the golden statue that you have set up.’
They realized they were not called to be lawyers trying to defend God, but witnesses to their faith in him. They also understood something that we tend to forget–our existence here and now is not the sum total of life for those who have a real and true relationship with God. Whether God miraculously saves us here and now or not, he is still God and we still have a never-ending relationship with him in which we will continue to live.
The test of our faith is not whether we will continue to believe after something bad happens. The cross is the ultimate evil perpetrated on an innocent person and that brought about the ultimate good in the universe. Rather, the test of our faith is whether or not we will continue to believe in the face of certain tragedy, before it happens. Those martyrs in Oregon, just like Shadrach, Meshach, and Agednego, and all the Christians martyrs in persecuted lands around the world, show the same kind of faith in the midst of tragedy. May we all have such faith if the situation presents itself to us!