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The Courage to Stand

Courage from the story of Daniel

by Janice Ross (revised, originally published in 2009)

Suitable for Whole School (Pri) - Church Schools

Aims

To consider the courage that it can take to stand up for what we believe.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need groups of similar items that are appropriate to the children’s ages. For each group, there should be an odd one out. For example, a group of three fruits and one vegetable or a group of pictures of three flowers from seeds and one from a bulb.

  • You will also need to be familiar with the story of Daniel in the ‘Assembly’, Step 4.

Assembly

  1. Play a game of ‘odd one out’ with the groups of items collected.

  2. Ask the children if they have ever felt like an odd one out, as if there was nobody else like them.

    Here are some situations that they might be facing. After each situation, ask the children, ‘I wonder if there is anyone here today who knows how that feels.’

    - Their parents won’t allow them the latest computer game, which all their friends are talking about.
    - They want to work hard at school, but their friends prefer mucking about.
    - They prefer reading to football.
    - They believe in God and go to church with their family, but their friends don’t.
    - Perhaps, when they are older, they will find that their friends want to try smoking, but they know that it is harmful.

  3. There can be many reasons for us to feel that we are standing alone, that we are an odd one out. It takes courage to be different, to take a stand, to say ‘No’.

  4. Tell the story of Daniel. The children can help you by giving a thumbs down whenever they hear the words, ‘Down with Daniel!’

    Daniel was a clever and important young man who helped King Darius to rule his kingdom. Daniel was so good at his job and so trusted by the king that he was in line for a big promotion. Sadly, this made the king’s other helpers jealous, and when people get jealous of us, they might try to hurt us in some way. The king’s helpers got together to hatch a plan to bring Daniel down.

    ‘Down with Daniel!’ they said angrily. (Children give a thumbs down.)

    However, try as they might, they just couldn’t find fault with Daniel’s work. This made them even angrier.

    ‘Down with Daniel!’ they shouted angrily. (Children give a thumbs down.)

    The king’s helpers knew that Daniel was a man of God, who always put God first in his life.

    ‘Now there’s an idea,’ thought one of the men excitedly.

    It was a clever idea and they hurried to the king with it.

    ‘O, most noble King Darius. You are indeed the greatest king ever to live. We think you should issue a law that in the next 30 days, all people should bow down and worship you alone.’

    Grovel, grovel!

    The king quite liked the idea. He puffed himself up on his throne and replied, ‘Very nice of you, and all quite true. Good idea.’

    ‘And,’ continued the men, ‘if anyone dares to worship any other god before you, he should be thrown in the lions’ den.’

    ‘Done,’ said the king, nodding proudly in agreement, and the decree was issued.

    When Daniel heard of this, he knew that this was not an order he could agree with. His God was the only God. So, he decided to . . . run away? No, he didn’t. He decided to . . . just pray to the king for the next 30 days? No, he didn’t. He decided to . . . just keep on praying quietly in his heart to his God? No, he didn’t. Daniel went upstairs, threw his window wide open, got down on his knees and prayed out loud, not just once, but three times a day, as he had always done before. You can be sure that he was being spied on. The binoculars were out in force!

    ‘Down with Daniel!’ the men said gleefully. (Children give a thumbs down.)

    They hurried to King Darius to tell him about disobedient Daniel. The king was upset because he liked Daniel, but a law was a law after all. He had committed himself to it.

    ‘Have him taken to the lions!’ he ordered, but quietly to himself, he added, ‘May your God rescue you, Daniel.’

    And what did God do? He shut the lions’ mouths. When Daniel was brought out with not a hair on his head harmed, King Darius issued another decree.

    ‘In every part of my kingdom, my people must fear and worship the God of Daniel.’

    When Daniel decided to continue praying to his God, he didn’t know what the outcome of his decision would be. He certainly did not fancy his chances with lions, but he also knew that he couldn’t agree with the decree. It was a very tough decision to stand alone, to be the odd one out.

    Of course, Daniel was not alone. He had a God who had promised never to leave him or to forsake him. He knew that it was right to continue to trust in his God.

Time for reflection

There would probably have been many others who believed the same as Daniel, but didn’t have the same courage. Perhaps, in situations that we face where we are the odd one out, there are many others looking on who agree with us, but need a leader. Daniel was certainly that. As a result of his courage, the whole nation turned to his miracle-working God.

In what situation have you ever felt like an odd one out? I wonder what you did.

Prayer
Dear God,
Thank you that you protected Daniel.
When we are faced with difficult decisions, please help us to have the courage to choose what is right.
Amen.

Publication date: April 2018   (Vol.20 No.4)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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