The Bible frequently calls us to be “strong and courageous” (cf. Josh. 1:9; Hag. 2:4-5). Easy to say, not so easy to do.
God knows first hand that it isn’t easy. Jesus, the God-man, came to earth and personally experienced every imaginable trial, test and difficulty that life has to offer (cf. Heb. 2:14-18).
We read in the Gospels how Jesus relied on the Holy Spirit at every step. As God’s precious children, we too have the indwelling presence of God’s Spirit to help us to be “strong and courageous” (cf. John 14:16-18).
Like the prophet Daniel, the Apostle Paul was called to a monumental task: to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ from Jerusalem to the uttermost parts of the earth. In 2 Corinthians 11:22-33 we read a graphic summary of all the challenges and hardships Paul had to endure as he faithfully fulfilled his calling. Despite all the difficulties he faced, Paul knew that God was with him every step of the way. He learned to rely on God for just enough grace to face each day.
In his letter to the church in Philipi, Paul penned these instructive and comforting words:
“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:11-13).
Paul wasn’t born with some superhuman capacity to overcome hardship, pain and difficulty. He had to learn how to trust in God and not to rely on his own abilities. That takes faith, humility and time. Letting go of the reins of our life isn’t easy. Recognising how precious we are to God is the first step. Really believing in His love for us, that He has our best interest at heart, is a prerequisite to faith in Him.
It was the same for Daniel. Here was a man who rose to the level of Prime Minister of the most powerful empire on earth in its day. And yet, as you read though the Book of Daniel, you find multiple examples of Daniel turning to God for wisdom, knowledge, strength and courage. Before anything else, Daniel was a man of prayer. He knew he couldn’t fulfil his calling without God’s help.
Did you notice what the Angel told Daniel?
“Then he said to me, "Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words.” (Dan. 10:12)
Yes, we’re called to persist in our prayers (cf. Luke 11:5-10; 18:1-8; Eph. 6:18), but that’s not for the purpose of somehow wearing God down so He’ll eventually relent and answer us begrudgingly. No, God hears our prayer and sends His response the second we express our heartfelt need to Him. Any perceived ‘delay’ from our perspective is for our own benefit – to teach us to trust in Him and to shape our character into His likeness as we wait on His perfect timing.
As difficult as it may be for us to understand and believe, we are more precious to God than a helpless child is to their parents.
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” (Matt. 7:7-11)
We are so precious to God that He sent His only begotten Son to die in our place so we can be forgiven for our sin and spend eternity with Him in Heaven (John 3:16). Over 2,000 years ago God proved beyond any doubt how much He loves us. He is worthy of our trust and devotion. Our eternal lives depend on it.
God’s message to Daniel still applies to us today:
“Don’t be afraid,” he said, “for you are very precious to God. Peace! Be encouraged! Be strong!” (Dan. 10:12-14)