I simply love this quote. Wow. There’s that nefarious fear. “Everything’s falling apart; going down the tubes; over a cliff into the deep, dark abyss!” What to do with this fear?
Daniel was displaced thousands of miles from home. Lost everything familiar. Separated from his immediate and extended families. He was forced to learn the language of his enemies, study the “wisdom” and laws of his enemies, and prepare for a lifetime of service TO HIS ENEMIES!
It is worthwhile observing how Daniel handled this.
1. He clung to his heritage and inner convictions.
Normal behavior for captured, displaced young people (as far as I can imagine, anyway) would be to either: 1. Resist and be beat to a pulp, or 2. Say “yes” “yes” “yes” to every instruction.
Young Daniel navigated a different path.
- He held onto his background, his beliefs, his loyalty to his people and his God.
- He determined – against all warnings and advice – to stick to his kosher dietary laws. Dan. 1:8.
- He trusted that God would enable him to stay pure no matter what the circumstances. Dan. 1:13.
Elderly Daniel, on the other hand, was willing to practice outright disobedience because honoring his Lord meant more to him than life itself. Dan. 6:10.
“Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Write them deep within your heart. Then you will find favor with both God and people.” Pro. 3:3-4 (all scripture quotations are from NLT unless otherwise stated).
2. He found a way to navigate through the evil and remain pure.
- Daniel went directly to the chief of staff to ask permission to abstain from unclean foods. His request was rejected. Dan. 1:8-10.
- He then went secretly to the attendant directly responsible over him and his three friends. He proposed a 10-day trial-run with the diet. The physical effects of the diet could be weighed, and the official would decide what was next. Dan. 1:11-14.
- The Lord honored each participant in this secret scheme. Dan. 1:18-19.
“Trust in the Lord with all you heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” Pro. 3:5-6.
3. He developed, even in the oppressive surroundings, his God-given abilities.
Remember! Daniel had been ripped away from his family, his home, his land, the Temple, the holy scrolls, freedom of movement, freedom of expression, all that he knew growing up!
He now found himself surrounded by idol worshippers, amoral leaders, abhorrent foreign practices that directly violated God’s good laws.
Any “normal” person would grow bitter and self-absorbed. He was expected to work hard at learning the foreign language, religion, literature, and laws and customs. And he was to use this knowledge to guide and counsel the destroyer of his people!
The Lord gifted Daniel with a mind that was sharp, a memory that was strong, and a clear understanding of the hearts and minds of people. These gifts set him and his three friends above all the others. Gifts can be ignored or neglected and never become reality, but Daniel added diligence, hard work and discipline, and thereby exceeded all expectations.
“When the training period [three years] was completed, the chief of staff brought all the young men to King Nebuchadnezzar. The king talked with them, and no one impressed him as much as Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. So they entered the royal service. Whenever the king consulted them in any matter requiring wisdom and balanced judgement, he found them ten times more capable than any of the magicians and enchanters in his entire kingdom.” Dan. 1:18-20.
4. Certain things can be left for later.
Consider what we expect or demand from life. What do you really want?
Perhaps it is safety, ease and longevity. Perhaps outstanding achievements. Perhaps meaningful relationships. Perhaps leaving a mark or legacy. Or perhaps the greatest desire is to be loved, to be known. No one should be judged for having these desires.
However, these outcomes become far more difficult when uprooted against your will to Babylon.
But Babylon, with all its oppression, calls us to hear anew the “table flipping” words of Jesus. “If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it.” Mar. 8:35. These words are exce!!ent. And it can be easier to follow amidst the oppression of Babylon than in a land of peace and prosperity where we tend to get lazy.
Paul and his co-workers tell us that “sacrificing” for Jesus is an investment with the highest return.
“Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles [imprisoned frequently, flogged severely, exposed to death repeatedly, beaten with rods, pelted with stones … 2 Cor. 11:23-27] are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Cor. 4:16-18, NIV.
Daniel shows us how to grapple with waves of fear, how to see through the fog of disappointment, how to weave through opposition, and how to please a Higher Authority.
How successful was he in pleasing God? A literal angel was sent from God’s presence with these words to Daniel.
“Daniel, you are very precious to God.” Dan. 10:11.
“Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven.” Dan. 10:12.
So yes, If God has placed you in Babylon [or wherever you are], be a Daniel!