“If our God, whom we serve, can save us from the white-hot furnace and from your hands, O king, may he save us! But even if he will not, know, O king, that we will not serve your god or worship the golden statue that you set up.” – Dn. 10:17-18

A priest-friend of mine preaches, from time to time, on our response to bad things happening. He points out that people undergoing hardship often ask, “Why me?” But just as valid, he argues, is the question, “Why not me?” Reading this passage from Daniel for today, verse 18 stood out and made me think of this question. In the Gospel for the First Sunday of Lent, Jesus rebuked Satan, telling him, “You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.” The three men’s response to Nebuchadnezzar is similar to Jesus. They refused to put God to the test. If God saves us, praise God for it. We believe in God because we have encountered God in the covenant. Your threat doesn’t change that, so this is where we stand. I find it incredibly hard to imagine faith in those extremes, and yet I know in our world today many people are faced with similar violence, and Christians facing violence and death in ways we haven’t seen for some time. Why them? Why not them? Why not me?

At the moment, there are many people in various circles of my community suffering deeply. They are in the midst of metaphorical flames. To paraphrase Fr. Greg Boyle, I’m in awe of the way they bear their great burden: imperfectly, resolutely, wholeheartedly. It is natural when suffering or grieving to go through the “stages of grief” and bargain with God for a cure, for a miracle, or plead to understand why. Today’s reading reminds me to reflect again on the “First Principle and Foundation” of St. Ignatius. Help me not to prefer safety to suffering, but in all things, let me go forward and be resolute in my trust in God. Maybe better than asking “why,” is asking “where is life to be found in this?” or “where are you in this God?” As we head to Holy Week, I will be reflecting on this question to see what in my life is ready to be lost in the Cross (or burned in the flame) to make way for Easter.

Have I recently caught myself saying “this is the last thing I need?” Was it really? Was it the worst possible thing that could have happened? Why did it seem so bad?

Who and what in my life invites me to respond like Nebuchadnezzar? To see God’s goodness displayed and praise God?

Jason Coito

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