Yet I Will Praise You {The Life of Daniel}

King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had besieged Jerusalem and taken captive Israel’s most skilled, accomplished, and brilliant inhabitants—youth of the royal and noble families—to be taught to serve within his courts.  Among those deported to Babylon was a young man named Daniel. Daniel, along with the rest of the exiled captives, was educated for three years in the language and literature of the Babylonians. During this season of training, God allowed him to excel in everything he was taught. When the time came to be presented before the King, Nebuchadnezzar was amazed at his wisdom, finding no one equal to him among the magicians and enchanters in his entire kingdom.  Daniel continued to find favor with the King, and was given a position of great influence and authority within the kingdom.

Now at first glance, it may seem as though everything is in Daniel’s favor, but remember that his people had just been conquered by an enemy king, the temple had been plundered, and Daniel was captive in a foreign land. The training he received was meant to obliterate any ties to his culture and religion, and destroy his former identity. He was even given a new name. Daniel, meaning “God is my Judge,” was given the name Belteshazzar, the meaning of which was linked to the gods of Babylon. His reality had completely changed, and he was left trying to navigate this new normal apart from a community that knew and understood him.

Can you relate? In the days since you began carrying the weight of loss, has it seemed as though your whole life has been turned upside down? Life, as you once knew it, will never be the same. Perhaps, you have even found that the people who you would have once considered your closest community have scattered because they did not know how to remain steadfast with you in the midst of the great sorrow you now bear.

Dear one, losing a child is a devastating grief that leaves you trying to maneuver your way through an entirely different normal than you were ever prepared for. But as we continue to look into Daniel’s life, we can learn much about what it looks like to cling confidently to the Lord through the darkest days.

Not long after Daniel was installed as one of King Nebuchadnezzar’s wise men, the king had a dream that troubled him greatly. Seeking the counsel of his magicians, he demanded that they tell him the meaning of his dream without being told what the dream was. When none of the magicians were able to do this, the king sent to have all of his wise men, Daniel included, destroyed.

When Daniel spoke with the captain of the guard who had been sent to kill him and heard the reason for this ordered mass execution, he asked for an audience with the king so that he could reveal the dream and its meaning to him. Daniel went back to his house to speak with his friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (whom we more readily recognize as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego), asking them “to seek mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery,” so that the wise men would be spared (Dan 2:18).

Did you catch that? When Daniel asked for the chance to speak with the king—the man who had just ordered his death—he had no idea what the dream was or meant. Instead, he was fully relying on God’s mercy. And God was merciful indeed. He revealed the dream and its interpretation to Daniel, who responded in praise.

“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,

    to whom belong wisdom and might.”
Daniel 2:20-23

After the king spoke with Daniel and heard the meaning of his dream, he too fell on his face in awe of God. Then he bestowed great honors on Daniel and made him ruler of the whole province of Babylon and chief over all the wise men.

When we choose to hold onto our faith in the middle of harrowing circumstances, even the hardest of hearts can be brought to their knees in praise of God. Because Daniel chose faith instead of fear, King Nebuchadnezzar recognized and proclaimed the awesome power of God. We also have been given an incredible opportunity to serve as a witness to the greatness of God. As we continue to live in faith in the midst of our sorrow, when it would be much easier and more natural to just give in to despair, our lives become a testimony of the living hope of Jesus Christ.

Many years passed. Darius the Mede had conquered Babylon and taken the throne. When he began to reign, he made Daniel one of three presidents over all the kingdom. In fact, the Bible tells us that because Daniel excelled above all the other high officials, the king planned to set him over all the kingdom. His time in Babylon had begun as an exile in captivity, yet now he had an enormously successful future before him with all the influence, authority, and wealth his position afforded him.

But this prestige also made him an object of envy. The other officials tried to find any complaint against him, but because of his faithful and diligent service to the king, there was none to be found. The only thing they could find to target in his life was his steadfast devotion to the Lord.

They came to the king suggesting that he pass a law stating that anyone who prayed to anyone other than the king himself during a 30 day period should be thrown into a den of lions. The king’s pride was flattered and he agreed to write such a law. These officials knew that because Daniel’s life was centered on God—because he was a man who lived by prayer—they could trap him in his unwavering devotion. They were right.

“When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.”
Daniel 6:10

He knew what the law said. He knew what the penalty would be. And he still chose to pray. He could have prayed in secret for those thirty days. He could have continued to pray without putting himself at risk. But Daniel prayed, “as he had done previously.” He prayed boldly and regularly. He knew his life was now in danger, but his passion for the Lord did not change. For Daniel, the choice to stop praying or to continue in secret, had a worse outcome than being fed to lions.

When faced with death, Daniel did not surrender his testimony or give in to a fear of man, because his hope was in the Lord. God was his greatest treasure—greater than all of the prestige and power that he had been given.

Daniel was thrown into the den of lions, but he was not alone. God was with him the entire time, and no harm fell on him. He sent an angel to close the mouths of the lions so they were powerless against Daniel.

God often allows His children to be tossed into dangerous or desperate situations, but He has promised us that we will never be alone. It may feel as though you are surrounded by lions with no way out, but God has not left you. No matter where you are or what you are going through, you are always safest in His arms.

Dear one, when God is your greatest treasure—when you have placed your trust in His unwavering faithfulness and choose Him above all else—you, like Daniel, can face the deepest valleys in your life with confidence and expectancy. There is no hope in this broken world apart from Him. God alone can give you the courage to face each new day, no matter how difficult it may seem. Will you choose today to seek His mercies and hold on to the deliverance He has offered you? When our hearts are fixed on Him, we are free from the burden of fearing what is to come, and our mouths can pour forth His praise from amidst the joys and the sorrows of life.

- Ashlee

Hope Mom to Simeon and Odelle

Ashlee is an Editorial Coordinator for Hope Mommies. She and her husband, Jesse, have four children on earth and two little ones in Heaven. You can get to know her more by reading her blog, Beyond Undone.

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