Our task as God’s people is to gather and mature followers of Jesus. But following Jesus can mean being rejected by our friends, misunderstood and even hated by people around us. Some Christians lose their jobs or even their lives because they follow Jesus.
At the very least, following Jesus will mean missing out on some of what people seem to enjoy: living for the weekend, or for retirement, or for success and approval.
So, let me ask you a question that we all ask ourselves sometimes: Is it worth following Jesus? Is Jesus worth dying for? And is Jesus worth living for?
We need an answer to that, especially when we miss out or when we are left out.
When we do suffer does it mean that God has failed?
Is it God’s plan for His people to live a blessed life? Should we expect that great things are just around the corner for us, if we just have faith?
We cannot answer that question based on what we desire or even on our own experience. As always, we must turn to the Scriptures that God breathed out, that the Holy Spirit caused to be written down, to find the answer.
Daniel certainly experienced some success in his life. We’re told throughout the book how God gave him favour with the people around him. But Daniel also knew the pressure of living for God in a hostile world. He was barely a teenager when he had to decide if he’d live to please the king or live to please God (chapter 1). His friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, were sentenced to death for refusing to fit in by worshipping what everyone else did. And in his 80s, Daniel was condemned to die in the lion’s den for his faith that the living God can save.
So, we can see in Daniel’s life what God’s plan for His people looks like. Is it God’s plan for His people to escape suffering? Is it God’s plan for His people to have a blessed life?
God’s message to us here is this: ‘Yes, it’s worth following Jesus, but not because you’ll escape suffering and live a blessed life here. It’s worth following Jesus because He is bringing absolute justice in the end and you’ll have a share in His perfect kingdom.’