Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.  Hebrews 11:1 NLT

A week ago this morning, I awoke with these words in my spirit: There's no reason to be discouraged.

And as I've been pondering this for the last week, the Lord has reminded me of several stories in His Word. 

Real-life stories of people who, in the natural, had every reason to be discouraged. 

People who, although they were doing the things the Lord purposed them to do, encountered circumstances that, without knowing the full story, could have looked not only discouraging, but down right scary! 

Daniel, for example, as he was being tossed into the den of lions! 

In the natural, he had reason to be discouraged. Cultivating his relationship with God each day. Being obedient. Remaining faithful to Him. And what did he get? Thrown to the lions!

And how about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego? 
In the natural, they had reason to be discouraged! Staying true to the One True God. Refusing to bow and worship an idol. And what did they get? Thrown into a furnace!

And as I've thought on these stories, I've thought: How would I feel? What would I be thinking, the moments before. The moments before I was thrown to lions or tossed into a furnace?

You see, the more time I spend with the Lord, the more He reveals His love to me. The more He reveals His truth to me. And the more He reminds me that the stories in His Word, are the stories of real people. 

Real people, with real emotions. 

Sure, I know now, because I have the benefit of the whole story, that an angel of the Lord shut the lions' mouths. That Daniel was not only saved, but prospered. And that the entire nation was turned toward the One True God. 

And I know now, again because I have read the end of the story, that the Son of God Himself showed up in the furnace. That not one hair on any of their heads was even singed. That Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were actually promoted in the kingdom. And that the entire nation revered the One True God.

But in the moments before, did they know what would happen?  Did they know, for sure, how it would all turn out?

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, in their moments before, said to the King: ...we know our God will rescue us from your power...but even if He doesn't...

And I think about my own life. And yours. 

What is it that you or I are going through right now, that in the natural, seems to be reason for discouragement?

And then I think about these people in the Bible again. 

Real people. Real people, who could have gotten discouraged. Who could have given up. Who, in the natural, could have had every reason to say: What in the world, God? And questioned His faithfulness. Or questioned His love. 

But, they didn't. They didn't. 

Instead, they stayed the course. And their lives, their circumstances, became an amazing, spectacular, gargantuan testimony that people still know, still talk about, still learn from today!

I don't know about you, but I want my life to leave that kind of legacy! The kind that when people look back on my life, 50-100-1,000 years in the future, they say: I want that kind of faith. The kind of faith that stays the course. The kind of faith that keeps going. The kind of faith that says yes to God. No matter what happens. No matter what it looks like!

I pray that this would be your desire as well! 

We can be ones that people look back on and say: I want their kind of faith!

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.  This is what the ancients were commended for.  Hebrews 11:1-2 NIV

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.  Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV

When they were brought in, Nebuchadnezzar said to them, "Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you refuse to serve my gods or to worship the gold statue I have set up? I will give you one more chance to bow down and worship the statue I have made...
But if you refuse, you will be thrown immediately into the blazing furnace. And then what god will be able to rescue you from my power?" 
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn't, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up...
Then Nebuchadnezzar said, "Praise to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent His angel to rescue His servants who trusted in Him. They defied the king's command and were willing to die rather than serve or worship any god except their own God...There is no other god who can rescue like this!   from Daniel 3:13-18, 28-29  ( Read the entire story in Daniel 3)

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