Summary: In spite of what seems to be insurmountable problems, we find strength by clinging to God.
Dealing With Disappointment
(First in the series Dare to be a Daniel)
He lived a life of dashed hopes and shattered dreams. His mother died when just a boy. He had to work in the fields to help his family. He only attended school sporadically, but read every book he could get his hands on. His business ventures and political career failed, and he became a surveyor to get out of debt. He married and had four children, but only one grew to adulthood. He regularly dealt with depression but never stopped working toward his goals. Yet we know him as one of the greatest men America ever produced: Abraham Lincoln.
She was an energetic young woman whose life was forever changed by an accident. Because her spinal cord was severed, she first struggled to survive. Forced to live her life as a quadriplegic, she nearly lost the will to live. Slowly, achieved the impossible. She painted by holding a brush with her teeth. She produced record albums of joyful music. She married, & is now known as an encourager to countless thousands of people. Her name? Joni Eareckson Tada.
Life for many is filled with experiences of disappointment, disillusionment, and despair. As a result, relationships, families, and careers are often scarred. When we encounter Daniel, we find a man facing unthinkable adversity.
Proposition: In spite of continual hardship, Daniel overcame tragedy and achieved success.
1. His nation collapsed (2 Chronicles 36)
How do you suppose Israel felt when Jehoiakim surrendered to Babylon’s first onslaught & became a servant to Nebuchadnezzar?
Relief that destruction was averted or shame at the country’s loss of sovereignty?
After 3 uneasy years, the end came swiftly. Jehoiakim tried to throw off Babylon’s power, and Nebuchadnezzar’s retaliation was swift.
Jerusalem was conquered.
We know little about Daniel’s family. He was of royal blood.
We know he was well schooled, or else he would not have been signaled out.
He was probably aware of the prophesies of Israel’s fall
2. He was uprooted (Daniel 1:1-7)
Isaiah predicted, “Some of your [Hezekiah’s] descendants…will be carried away (2 Kings 20:18).
Not only were holy items from the temple removed, the best of the young men of royal blood were taken as well.
They became civil servants in a pagan government.
Customs were different; language was different; worship was idolatrous.
Unanswered questions would have swirled through his head.
Did his family survive the sacking of Jerusalem?
How would he deal with being a prisoner of war?
Daniel knew His God to be always faithful, even in the midst of tragedy.
Daniel had three friends who would stand with him for what was right.
Daniel had his heritage. Joseph, Moses, & David all endured through their own tragedies.
3. He was a survivor (Daniel 1:21)
Daniel faced a choice.
Entering the service of the king of Babylon was not a matter of choice.
How he performed that service was.
He could have allowed bitterness to sour his relationship with God.
After all, God did not protect him from disaster.
He was so far from home, it might be easier to adopt to the customs of this new land.
He could have reasoned, “They won; we lost. When in Babylon, do as the Babylonians do.”
He could have become bitter toward his captors & his situation.
He didn’t come to Babylon on a student visa.
Why not do the bare minimum?
Or surround himself with pity & let hopelessness overtake his life?
After all, nothing would ever be the same again. Life as he knew it was over.
Instead, Daniel chose to faithfully serve God by serving his captors to the best of his ability.
Daniel was much like a middle-aged woman who lived a quiet life in Holland during the first third of the twentieth century. She & her sister kept house for their widowed father. Her greatest joy was teaching a group of mentally handicapped children Bible lessons in the afternoon. When the Nazis invaded, her family sheltered Jews in their home. Turned in by an informant, they were arrested & sent to a concentration camp. After enduring a particularly hard beating, the women were comforted by the reminder that “They did this to our Lord as well.”
Her father & sister died there. She survived to tell her story: not of bitterness, but of a victory in the grace of God that can light the darkest circumstances of life. Her name? Corrie Ten Boom.
Daniel sought God on a daily basis.
He completed his studies with distinction & served admirably for 70 years through the reign of 3 kings: Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, & Darius.
Not only was he an administrator, but a prophet & advisor.
Throughout his life, Daniel was usable by God.