“Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego,
who sent his angel to deliver the servants who trusted in him;
they disobeyed the royal command and yielded their bodies
rather than serve or worship any god
except their own God.” (Dn 3:95)
I have always prayed that I would have courage in the face of persecution. I would hope that, if it ever came my way, I would “pass the test” and be able to stand up for the faith courageously.
However, praying for courage and realistically viewing some of the means of that persecution are two entirely different animals. One can pray all one wants. That can be a rather “heady” kind of task. But, staring eye-to-eye with the manner of persecution? I would think that would shake many a person.
Martyrs have been flayed and left to bleed to death, they have been put on spits or gridirons and roasted alive, they have been dismembered, they have been fed to wild animals, and they have been burned in furnaces, just to name a few. None of those are pleasant ways to go.
I pray for courage. But, standing in front of a fiery furnace? Good Lord, that would take an incredible amount of courage.
That is the courage given to the three youths before being cast into the furnace because they were not going to break their dietary laws and eat meat sacrificed to idols. Eating the meat would have both made them ritualistically unclean and would also have been blasphemous. They would not allow either of those to happen on their account. Instead, they were willing to risk death.
Were God to save them, so much the better for them. Were God to choose to let them burn, they would do so with pride, knowing that they had kept the faith.
I think of people who face terrible persecutions for the faith even today and I wonder if I would have what it takes. Our human nature often compromises us.
FAITH ACTION: Pray for those who suffer for the faith that they may have the courage to stand up for what they believe even in the face of persecution.