In the third chapter of Daniel we see three young men, 18 or so years of age, who are getting ready to endure the greatest test of faith anyone could experience. Before it is all said and done, the young men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abendego (their Babylonian names) will have themselves tossed into a fiery furnace by a tyrannical king by the name of Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. It is clear from the start that before they were tossed into the fiery pit of the furnace, they already were exposed to a P.I.T of testing.
Every Christian, and especially young people who profess faith in Jesus Christ, will undergo a season or time of being in a P.I.T. In this post today, I want us to briefly look at this account in Daniel 3 to understand the importance of seeking Jesus in your P.I.T.
1. What is meant by a P.I.T?
Think with me of three elements that are experienced by anyone undergoing the temptation to renounce their faith in Christ or to seriously question it in light of prevailing skepiticism.
Pressure Daniel 3:1-7
Intimidation Daniel 3:8-12
Threatened Daniel 3:13-15
It is important to note that a "P.I.T" can be a God-designed test that helps you to see whether or your trust in God is real or fake. As the reader can see from the brief outline above, the Hebrew youths were tested from every conceivable angle. It is vital that when in a P.I.T, that the sufferer gets a hold on God's wisdom from His Word. Wisdom is that God-given ability that enables you to relate to God and others in a Godward direction.
So many times in young life, a child that makes a profession of faith will initially express eagerness about the Bible and the things of God. Such expressions can be genuine, but they can also derive from what we could call "an illumination of the soul". When a child becomes cognizant of such things as right and wrong at an early age, they are, in their little child-like way, awakening to what they are by God-given design - a moral being. Little children will then, especially when exposed to the Gospel, exhibit sudden insights - albeit passing ones. Jesus tells us in Matthew 18:2-5,
"And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, 3 and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me."
He then notes in Matthew 18:10-11 -
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven. 11 [For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.]
Jesus then says later in Matthew 19:13-15 -
"Then some children were brought to Him so that He might lay His hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them. 14 But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 15 After laying His hands on them, He departed from there."
All of these tell us that there is a special kind of God's common grace that accompanies children before they reach the point where they connect their sense of "right and wrong" to how such relates to God in the realm of "righteousness and unrighteousness". Such a common grace is a working of the Spirit that keeps that child tender and "safe". Such common grace, as indicated by Jesus, includes some level of angelic working wherein the child may have insights into the invisible realm which far exceeds their young, still developing minds.
I often will look at how children are in a service as an indicator as to gaining a sense of what God could possible be doing in the service. Sometimes too, the little ones will pick upon spiritual battle way before adults, which is why they may suddenly "act-up" in moments when a pressing point in the sermon is coming forth. I find it no accident that Paul himself places instructions on the family and child-rearing in the same context as that of the admonishments to "put on the full armor of God".
As the Gospel is explained to children, we yet may see them respond positively to its message. Of course, it is difficult to tell, at least outwardly, the difference between "a profession of faith under the common grace of illumination in the soul" versus "a profession of faith issuing forth from the saving grace wrought by the Holy Spirit in the heart".
Now I point all of this out to drive home how both the person, and occasionally family members or the church, can discern whether a child-hood profession of faith was real or fake - by the P.I.T.
Once a young child reaches adolescence and teenage years, the testing ground truly starts. The P.I.T is entered. Physical temptations, ideas, influences, friends, the will and personality all swirl about in the world of a young man and a young woman. Will they stay true to the one they professed as Savior and Lord at a Sunday School, a V.B.S, from a personal prayer they prayed with mom, dad, or grand-parents? Or, will the battle against the soul show them and everyone else that they had not combined their profession of belief with true faith? The chart below (Lifeway study from 2017, see link here: https://lifewayresearch.com/2017/10/17/young-bible-readers-more-likely-to-be-faithful-adults-study-finds/) highlights important disciplines needing exercised by young people if they expect to weather the storms which will rage against them - inside and outside.
I have seen first-hand a pattern that takes place when a young child grows into older childhood and into the teenage years which involves the Bible, prayer, church, musical influences and service. I have observed, too many times to count, how a young person that drifts away from reading their Bible, will soon find themselves ceasing to pray. Then, before they know it, they won't want to attend church. Once church attendance (or the desire thereof) has went cold, soon the person turns to other influences. Finally, any notion of serving others for Jesus' sake goes out the window, resulting in a self-centered individual. This predictable pattern not only afflicts the teenager, but often afflicts people wel into adulthood.
2. How can a young person navigate the P.I.T?