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When Life Doesn’t Go as Planned…
Imagine you had your whole life planned out. You’ve worked hard. You’ve studied hard. You’ve won all the best scholarships and graduated at the top of your class from the most prestigious university. Your future is bright.
Not only are you smart… you’re good looking too. You take good care of yourself. You’re good with people. You’re wise. You make good choices… and yet in an instant, all of it is taken away.
All of your achievements no longer matter. You’re taken from your home, friends, and family. You’re forced to go back to school to be trained as a bureaucrat in the pagan Babylonian Court.
Not only are you taken from the comfort of your home and country, you’re given a new name that challenges your faith and identity.
This was the story for a young man named Daniel.
“Daniel was immersed not only in the language of Babylon, but also in its astrology, magic, and religious practices.” – Paul Stevens
“Select only strong, healthy, and good-looking men,” he said. “Make sure they are well versed in every branch of learning, are gifted with knowledge and good judgment, and are suited to serve in the royal palace. Train these young men in the language and literature of Babylon. The king assigned them to a daily ration of food and wine from his own kitchens. They were to be trained for three years, and then they would enter the royal service.” -Daniel 1:4-5
Upon graduation, he was to serve the same government that destroyed his home, his friends, and his country.
How did he survive?
How did he not go crazy?
Daniel recognized that even though he had experienced pain and loss, that God was still in control and he trusted God’s word in spite of his circumstances.
God spoke to Daniel and the captives of Babylon through the prophet Jeremiah.
This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” -Jeremiah 29:4-7
God reassured Daniel that He hadn’t abandoned his people. This would have been such a comfort to this young man in a strange land. The prophet goes on to bring hope to a hopeless people. That God was still with them and He wasn’t finished with them (Jeremiah 29:11). Because of this hope, Daniel didn’t try to run away from his troubles, he maintained the work ethic and integrity he always had.
Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. 24 Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ. -Col. 3:23-24
Daniel didn’t wait for conditions to be perfect to put his heart into what he did. Daniel faithfully served 6 different kings in 3 different nations. He chose to serve them all in excellence and with integrity as unto the Lord.
Change is inevitable.
Often change is uncomfortable and even painful. Most of us probably won’t experience the same tragedy that Daniel went through, however, the principles that held him together still hold true for us today. God’s word is true, and in the midst of changes circumstances God remains the same (Hebrews 13:8).