Daniel and his friends had been carried away from their home in Israel with the deportation to Babylon (Daniel 1). What had happened to their parents and other family members? We are not told, so it might be safe to assume they were gone. Four young men had some major transitions to adjust to! At least they had each other, and they held fast to the faith of their people and to their God.
What changes have threatened the stability of your life lately? Have they threatened the stability of your faith in God or your commitment to his service and faithful witness? You have the choice to embrace them and make the most of each one as a new adventure. Life changes can really pull the rug out from under our feet and leave us tottering until we find a new place of balance. Where do you find strength to hang on and hold fast?
We left home, church and friends to move at the end of 2011. It was not that far (but farther than what I can drive myself any more). We moved closer to my husband’s family and to my son who was courting the young woman who became his wife last year. Most of this was pretty good.
Leaving that much after 15 years, though, was tugging my heart. I left work in 2010 and was still in the process of filing for disability. After two denials, a judge ruled in my favor at the end of last year, lifting some of the financial concerns.
I went to a counselor to see if I could talk through the challenges of not working. I wanted to discuss “change management.” Could I still pursue some of my dreams with the fatigue of multiple sclerosis that left me unable to work? Aside from being a great listener, his best advice was to focus on what I did have (which was a lot) rather than on what I had lost. He encouraged me to do more writing, which I am trying to nurture now.
When the move in 2011 was approaching, it was a random DVD of an old episode from “The Waltons” that the Lord used to adjust my heart. Interesting things come to the surface when you have to pack for a move! I have no idea where this DVD came from. I dropped it into the computer to see what it was. A young deaf girl was left on the Waltons’ doorstep, and of course they did what they could to help. The family were all trying to learn sign language but she was quite resistent. John Boy intercepted her tears, pantomiming a few words until it connected: “Don’t be sad; be happy!”
Simple words from a family full of Christian love. Some weeks later I realized that story was the turning point in my emotions, too. “Don’t be sad; be happy!”
Suddenly I was looking forward to the move, to the new life that God was opening up for us. Three days after Christmas, the moving truck rolled away and we walked to the car. Our realtor was amazed at my peace. The Lord had gone before me and all I wanted to do was follow him.
What of Daniel? He passed the testing of his faith when he proved that their vegetarian diet (obedience to the Mosaic Law) left him and his friends looking better than the rest. They passed their exams in Babylonian language and culture, securing government positions where they could make a difference for their people.
Not too long into their new jobs (Daniel 2), the king had a crazy request. He had an obviously significant dream. He didn’t trust his counselors and he demanded that they tell him both the dream and its meaning. He was ready to kill all the wise men of Babylon in his rage, which would include our heroes.
Daniel asked for a repreive so he and his friends could pray. I love that after they sought the Lord together, Daniel went to sleep! God revealed to Daniel in a dream what the king wanted to know. If God gave the first dream, he had no trouble providing a rerun. Here is Daniel’s testimony when God let him see both the king’s dream and its interpretation:
“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him.
To you, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, for you have given me wisdom and might, and have now made known to me what we asked of you, for you have made known to us the king’s matter.” (Daniel 2:20-23)
What made these young men so solid that they could navigate these transitions successfully?
Daniel knew his God.
Daniel obeyed and trusted his God.
God came through for him and used him to save many lives.
What Daniel received from the Lord that night and at other times over the years still guides us today in the Scriptures. We have the same mighty God who will steady us through loss and change. It is his perfect intention to turn all of it into a life and a message that will save many.