Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Adolescence/Teen Years (07/16/09)
TITLE: The Test Of Faith
By Beckie Stewart
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Daniel felt the warmth of the rising sun on his back as he knelt at the window facing Jerusalem. He wrestled with a deep sadness as he recalled the screams of his parents and sisters as the soldiers dragged him away. The echo of those sounds had etched a painful memory of the proper goodbye they robbed from him.
“I’m angry. How do I know You’re with me?”
A groan from the mats behind him interrupted the solitude of those moments. As Daniel finished a prayer for the safety of his family and friends, the door burst open. A tall, rugged man dressed in Babylonian garb walked in with a tray filled with food and drinks. Daniel surveyed it and discovered it lacked vegetables and water.
“Excuse me, sir. May we have some vegetables and water?”
With curiosity the man eyed Daniel and the three teens now beside him.
“You’re sons of nobility and royalty, why aren’t you interested in the king’s delicacies and wine?”
“With all due respect, sir, we abide by a dietary law in devotion to our God.”
“What? Are you kidding? In three years you need to be ready to enter the king’s personal service. You’re useless if you bear any defects and are unable to display intelligence in every branch of wisdom. It’s my job to see you acquire knowledge in literature and the Chaldean language. My provisions guarantee my achievement of this in you.”
“Sir, if it pleases you, may I ask that you test us for ten days. If our appearance is unacceptable to you, we’ll agree to eat the cuisine you serve instead.”
“What’s your name?” the commander of chief asked.
“Hmm. Well, Daniel. I’m impressed with the submissive way in which you’ve approached me. I’ll agree to what you ask. However, from now on, you’ll be known as Belteshazzar.”
The man renamed Daniel’s friends, too. Hananiah became known as Shadrach, Mishal as Meshach, and Azariah as Abed-nego. The four teens realized the name represented their captivity as children of Israel and yearned to maintain freedom in their hearts. The commander departed and returned with a daily ration of vegetables and water for Daniel and his three friends. When they finished, He directed all of the youth down the hallway.
“Clean yourselves and dress in the provided clothing. I’ll be back in an hour to begin our instructions.”
As the door closed behind them, the young men prepared for their showers. One teen scornfully approached Daniel.
“Are you going to try and convince him that you’re unable to wear their attire, too?”
“No, it doesn’t dishonor my Lord to wear it.”
“Oh brother. I bet He doesn’t care what you eat either.”
“If He doesn’t, then our appearance will look worse than yours, and we’ll abide by the commander’s wishes and eat what you’re eating.”
“Yes, you will,” the teen said as he walked off.
The next ten days proved to challenge Daniel and his friends’ faith as the other teens mocked everything they did. If they answered a question incorrectly, one chided them with comments like, “Ready for some brain food yet?”
If they stumbled over a Chaldean word, they heard remarks like, “Didn’t you get enough vegetables and water to help your memory?”
Despite the mistreatment, Daniel continued three times a day to kneel at the window facing Zion.
“I can’t believe how difficult it has been to follow You in this. Did what we eat really matter at all? Please reveal to me that You’re my God and my Deliverer.”
The morning of the tenth day the commander lined the boys up before they entered the showers. He carefully scrutinized each boy from all angles.
“Belteshazzar, step forward.”
Daniel instantly obeyed.
“I don’t know the God you serve, but He made your appearance better. You’re fatter than the rest. I grant you permission to continue with your present dietary practices.”
While the teens prepared for their daily lessons, several approached Daniel and his friends and inquired about their God. They craved the liberty displayed in their Israelite brothers. Daniel confidently professed His trust in the Lord. His faith not only won favor with the commander but among his peers, too.
Based on Daniel 1
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