Machiavelli was wrong. He asserted that a leader should choose to be followed out of fear rather than trust, the former being stronger than the latter. His Renaissance of thought could have benefitted him better by observing Daniel’s description of his three noteworthy young friends; Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego reveal how trust, rather than fear, made them the finest examples of dependable followers.
Daniel has modeled how RESOLVE, AWE, AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT are integral parts of a pattern for prayer worth reproducing in our lives. Now, in chapter 3, he adds TRUST to the growing collection. Each is a precious stone to be applied to our ballast of prayer. Go ahead. Read the chapter. It’s gripping.
Trust must have a worthy object upon which to anchor. God is that trustworthy object. Daniel’s friends trust in three traits of God’s unchanging character to be relevant to their situation.
They trust in God’s ABILITY to answer any prayer: “the God we serve is able to save us”. (Note: I have borrowed some of these thoughts from Beth Moore’s study on the Book of Daniel). They understand He is able to rescue them from the flames. In that case the flames, or the king’s wrath, might miraculously cool and be extinguished. The trial could be avoided. God is able to do it. God is also able to rescue them through the flames. He may use the trial to transform and perfect them as they experience the challenging situation. Or, He may rescue them in the flames. They might experience their mortal end and move on to meet their heavenly Maker as a result of the trial. God’s power is sufficient for any of these methods of intervention. We can trust Him to decide.
Secondly, they trust in God’s WILLINGNESS to answer their prayers: “and he will rescue us from you hand, O king”. God is intensely willing to be involved in their lives and in the lives of any who follow Him. He is highly motivated to be actively working through many means to bring about the end He desires for our lives. He is willing because He loves us so much. We can trust Him for that.
And thirdly, they trust God’s GOODNESS toward those who pray to Him. The youths had appealed to God’s mercy in an earlier episode, and they had seen God’s goodness toward them in His answer to that prayer. Goodness is often viewed better with hindsight as we begin to see how God’s ways work together for good to those that love Him. We can trust that He is good.
Deep trust is transformational. It does something to us that makes us completely different people from our natural bent. Trust makes us strong. We become people of conviction, focus and determination. Isaiah quotes God as revealing, “…in quietness and trust is your strength” (Isa. 30:15). We become people fearless of earthly consequences because we are convinced that worshiping God alone is our very best option.
As we enter into petitionary prayer it is essential to remind ourselves of God’s character. Do we believe He is able? Do we believe He is willing? Do we believe He is good? Are we convinced that God orchestrates the best ultimate outcome for us, regardless of the difficulties we may need to endure? That is trust.
Machiavelli missed out on the greatest truth available to humanity. Trust gives us the strength we need to follow the leadership of the Most High God. Are you ready for the experience?