“It’s hard to be a Christian.”
This statement came from my daughter the other day as we were discussing the offenses of others in response to our decisions for Christ.
She had drawn a line in the sand (so to speak) at school with a couple friends and I had done the same recently, neither of which were received well.
As Christians, we have to be tough. We have to endure with grace and love no matter what we are faced with. “Turn the other cheek,” “give them your cloak, too,” “go the second mile” (paraphrasing Matt 5:39-41). In all circumstances, we are to emulate Christ. That IS hard.
But, I love how relevant and helpful the Word is. I was reading the story of Daniel in the lion’s den and at the end of the story it says something interesting:
“So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was upon him, for he believed in his God.”
Daniel 6:23b, KJV
I looked further into the accused in the Bible and found that the same situation occurred in every instance of accusation against the innocent. Here are a few:
Joseph was accused by Potiphar’s wife and was thrown into prison. But God knew his innocence and blessed him even in the midst of imprisonment. He came out of it in power and authority, without holding a grudge or harboring bitterness, and received a blessing from God, including a beautiful reconciliation with his family. Vindicated.
David was accused by Saul’s men of seeking to hurt the King (Saul). If he wanted to kill him, he definitely could have. The opportunity was there but David refused. Mind you, I don’t think he handled it the best way, but interestingly enough he kept from killing the man who had sought for so long to kill him. In the end, David kept his cool, didn’t hold a grudge or let bitterness take root, and Saul blessed him and acknowledged his anointing as the next king. Vindicated.
Meschach, Shadrach, and Abednego were accused by the Chaldeans of basically treason by not bowing to other gods and were thrown into a fire. But they believed in their God to deliver them, and if He didn’t they would still stand their ground. And in the midst of the fire, Jesus was with them. Their righteousness in that situation was apparent, they came out unscathed and without anger, and a decree was sent out that anyone who even spoke against their God would be cut into pieces (also gross) and their house made a dunghill (not sure which is grosser). The three men were then promoted. Vindicated.
Daniel was accused of basically the same thing as his buddies above and was thrown into the lion’s den. But he believed his God. An angel came in and closed the mouths of the lions and again innocence and righteousness was proven by a lack of death. Daniel came out blessing the king (“May the king live forever!”), in no manner of hurt, and the king had Daniel’s accusers and their families thrown into the same lion’s den (all their bones were subsequently crushed before they even hit the floor of the den – gross again), and a decree went out to the people to fear and revere Daniel’s God because of God’s miraculous saving of innocent Daniel. Vindicated.
And of course we all know our Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith. Accused, crucified, innocent so death couldn’t hold Him, risen again and promoted to His proper place at the right hand of the Father. He is the ultimate example of righteousness, how we should respond to accusation, and the vindication of our good God.
So, yeah, sometimes it’s hard to be a Christian. But we know our God sees all, that all things work together for our good (even if those things were meant to harm us), and that we will be vindicated by God if we are innocent and obedient to Christ’s example.
When we are faced with accusation, persecution, or offense, we’ve got to follow these examples. We have to remind ourselves of and speak out His Word, “Be still and know that I am God.” Silence and stillness are our best answer in these situations. Don’t worry, just pray. “Cast your cares upon Me, for I care for you.” It’s tough, but we must not back down. We have to stand our ground in love.
By the end of the conversation with my daughter, she had changed her statement from, “It’s hard to be a Christian” to “I’m proud to be a Christian.” Me too, girl. Me too.
Prayer: God help me to wait on You for vindication. And while I wait, help me to be silent and rest in the peace that comes from knowing and trusting in You, the Author and Perfecter of my faith. Teach me to let it go, to bless those who persecute and accuse me, and to surrender any bitterness or unforgiveness in my heart. Help me to be mature and disciplined and to follow Your example. You are good and I trust Your care for me. In Jesus’s name, Amen.