A common consensus among our culture today is that teenagers are lazy and don’t tend to be very eager to serve Christ. I would bet that many people thought the same way during bible times. It’s assumed that since teenagers are so easily impressed upon that we will always follow the crowd. Here are three cases where youths had inspiring faith in their God.
1. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego
The story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is popular, but is sometimes told unrealistically. King Nebuchadnezzar reigned over Babylon from 605 B.C. to 562 B.C. and decided he would set up a golden statue. It is unclear whether this idol resembled himself or one of his gods; nevertheless, King Nebuchadnezzar demanded that all should fall down before the image and worship at the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music. If anyone refused they would be thrown into a fiery furnace to burn to death. Pretty brutal.
This continued for a while until Chaldeans informed King Nebuchadnezzar that the Jews were refusing to bow down, specifically Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These three guys were actually really close friends and even worked with Daniel under the King. Although angry, he didn’t want to have to kill the three because they worked for him, but he would do it if they defied him; so, King Nebuchadnezzar gave them one last chance:
“Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”
Now the Bible doesn’t specify, but I don’t think the three amigos refused without a second thought. I mean, really, how many of us would have been able to make a decision like that on the spot? Life and death is a huge decision – especially when the death part will be so violent. It was do or die…literally. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego chose what everyone thought was a sure death. King Nebuchadnezzar had order the furnace to be so hot that when the servants threw in the three even they burned to death.
The king and people watched intently and suddenly King Nebuchadnezzar noticed a fourth man in the blaze. “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” King Nebuchadnezzar inquired angrily confused. “Of course!” answered his counselors. Nebuchadnezzar concluded that the fourth was a heavenly being and called for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to walk out of the fire, and they did so.
They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.
Wait, what?? They didn’t even smell like fire?! God didn’t so much as allow them to be sunburned! They had faith that their God could and would protect them from the fire, but I bet they didn’t think He would make sure they smelled good. These men were young and lacked the wisdom that many older people had, but they had faith that trumped wisdom!
2. Mary Of Nazareth
Many know of Mary’s faith in God, and many people know how young she was when she learned of her pregnancy, but few seem to realize how amazing this was in and of itself.
So the angel told her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive and give birth to a son, and you shall give Him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever. His kingdom will never end!”
Mary understandably asks a few important questions and then says this:
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it happen to me according to your word.” Then the angel left her.
We can accurately assume Mary was around the age of 15 or 16 considering the customs of that time. In my opinion, this is truly a work of God. He sent His own Son, the one who would lay his life down for all of humanity, through a hormonal teenage girl! Some might think that God doesn’t give big jobs to young people but this passage make it clear that He does indeed!
Mary found favor with God. He trusted her. I don’t even trust girl scouts with my cookie order! But God knew Mary would carry out His will with a full heart.
(If you’re wondering how she may have felt during this time, you can read A narrative of Jesus’ birth in the perspective of Mary.)
3. The boy who gave 5 loaves and 2 fish to Jesus
You’re probably wondering how a kid giving Jesus fish and bread was an act of faith, so I’ll help you. The scripture says “Jesus then took the loaves (John 6:11).” Jesus likely explained that he was going to feed 5,000 hungry people with the lunch that his mom packed for him, and the boy handed it over. The boy must have trusted that Jesus would perform the miracle He spoke about; otherwise, the boy would have kept His lunch. He truly believed that Christ could take 5 loaves of bread and make +4,995 more to feed the people. We see earlier in the same passage that not even the disciples were fully confident Jesus would be able to feed all of the people, yet a young boy had more faith!
This isn’t about how God can use us but how some of the most faithful people in the Bible were so young! Faith is a vital part in our relationship with Christ, even as young men and women. We shouldn’t always rely on logical and calculated thinking but trust in our Savior to save us and use us.
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.