As for these four youths, God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. Daniel 1:17
For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 1 John 5:4
Daniel and his friends display a power that is hard to fathom. Page after page shows them mastering hopeless situations through their radical faith in the Living God. These stories are full of such hope and victory that we can be tempted to say that they are too good to be true. It is this underlying unbelief that has led many scholars to classify the stories of Daniel 1–6 as mere court tales, sweet and entertaining pieces of literature, but fiction nonetheless. As Christians, we can well understand their predicament without submitting to their conclusions. Haven’t we found God to be unbelievably good? But how do we demonstrate that this unbelievably good God exists and is ready to work in and through all who dare to trust Him?
Thankfully, the early chapters of Daniel are not silent on this question. The first chapter of Daniel exhibits three ways that our Lord invites us into radical faith. Let’s begin by considering the most obvious of these invitations.
The First Invitation: Circumstances
We are not in control. True, there are aspects of our lives that we have a part in understanding, shaping, and directing; however, an overwhelming, innumerable mass of factors is and always has been outside of our reach and reckoning. If that were not enough, these same factors are constantly influencing and shaping us in spite of our strong opinions and best efforts. The microscopic coronavirus currently wreaking havoc across the globe highlights this fact, stripping us of many activities that we once assumed to be well within our power. In jaw-dropping speed, an imperceptibly small entity has brought the entire world to a halt, erasing confident periods and replacing them with question marks written in bold red ink.
Daniel’s situation is cut from the same cloth. Rarely have we been in situations where our powerlessness was so obvious. Yet the plight of Daniel and his friends is presented to us, not as a case study in despair and disbelief, but quite the opposite! It becomes apparent that their plight was necessary, even planned, to invite them into a maturity that was independent of the ups and downs of life on earth. Every change and uncertainty merely served to build within them confidence in the certainty of the One who never changes. Their example teaches an important truth about the pressures we endure: Our Lord produces godly character in us by teaching us to trust Him in spite of the circumstances.
Let’s Hear From You!
What do you think? Do Daniel’s circumstances remind you of temptations and pressures that you and your friends are facing? Perhaps there is something you would like to share or a question you have been waiting to ask. If so, I would love to hear from you! Please post a comment below or, if you prefer, email me via our contact page. Thank you for reading and may God bless you this week!
Illustration by Kitti Touzeau