“If God has placed you in Babylon, be a Daniel!”

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!

Let’s Apprehend Hope

Words do silly things:

The noun “Apprehension” is defined as “a fear or anxiety about something.”

The verb “to Apprehend” is defined as “to take hold of,” “to come into possession of.”

BUT, no one wants to apprehend [come into possession of] apprehension [fear and anxiety]!

We want to shed it, overcome it, to remove the anxieties and fears that haunt us. To be rid of it and live on a higher plane.  We would love to throw all our anxieties into a bottomless pit and banish them forever.

How can this be done?

This past year has created all sorts of apprehension among us humans in all stages and walks of life. The pandemic, the economy, shutdowns, elections, sickness, and loss of life, have assaulted our hearts with fears, doubts, insecurities – apprehensions.

To apprehend is to face the causes of apprehension and willfully overcome them.  

We have been hurt physically, mentally, emotionally, economically, relationally, and spiritually. Some of us may have considered dropping out permanently. Life deals tough blows. But here we are. Still moving forward. Still looking for light, relief, peace, belonging and joy.

Hope requires a decision (actually, repeated decisions), but willpower alone is not enough. We need help from outside ourselves. We can receive this help from trusted friends, relatives, counselors, and most of all, our Loving Father, the Royal Son, and the Resident Advocate (Eph. 1:3-14).

God wants to relate with us honestly, with integrity. Look at how David approached Him. “Be gracious to me, Adonai, because I am withering away; heal me, Adonai, because my bones are shaking…I am worn out with groaning; all night I drench my bed with tears…Adonai has heard the sound of my weeping, Adonai has heard my pleading, Adonai will accept my prayer.” Psa. 6:2,6,8,9 (Complete Jewish Bible). Wherever we find ourselves, be genuine with God.

A most incredible truth in the universe is that God “hearts” each one of us.

Let us encourage one another in this journey; assist each other along the way. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Pride gets us nowhere. It is up to us as individuals, families, communities, churches, etc. to turn the noun into the verb, for ourselves and for others.

More will be written about this in the next two weeks. Hope is not a flimsy feeling; Biblical hope is a most powerful, transformational force.

The first follow-up post is here: https://heardivinewords.com/2020/12/24/deity-hearts-you-me-everyone/

Let’s overcome apprehension by fully apprehending hope!