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Memory Verse: 1 Samuel 2:30
Further Study: Daniel 1; Prophets and Kings, 479-490; The Bible Story, vol. 6, pp. 9-14
Daniel found himself on a journey of traumatic circumstances. Nebuchadnezzar captured the city of Jerusalem, deposed its king, and took the first wave of captives back to Babylon. Daniel’s caravan of prisoners most certainly walked some 1,000 miles, perhaps in a chain gang formation. Think of the disappointment, discouragement, and grief that accompanied him on that journey. Yet somewhere, along the way, he determined to accept his circumstances. He renewed his convictions, rehearsed his childhood lessons, and resolved to stay true to his faith.
He renewed his convictions, rehearsed his childhood lessons, and resolved to stay true to his faith.
For us, our focus shouldn’t be only on the journey. We know the path of life may be through a desert, a valley, or a hilltop. The more important message of Daniel’s journey, terrible as it might have been, is accepting where you are and allowing God to use you in spite of the circumstances. How many reading this devotion are also wiping runny noses, changing dirty diapers, or sitting amidst piles of laundry and scattered toys? It’s sometimes difficult to see one’s value in situations like this. We find ourselves making comparisons to the friend who sits in a quiet office with no disruption. Surely she has it better. Surely she’s making more of a difference!
But the friend in the office is dealing with the pressure of an unreasonable boss all while she compares herself to the colleague who retired a month ago and is free from office intrigue and politics. But that woman sits alone, wondering who needs her, and why when you get older, everyone thinks you can no longer contribute.
Even in challenging circumstances, Daniel resolved to stop comparing how life could be and accepted where God had placed him.
The takeaway is this. Even in challenging circumstances, Daniel resolved to stop comparing how life could be and accepted where God had placed him. He affirmed the faith taught to him by faithful parents. When we give our situation to God while it doesn’t remove the problem, it does bring relief. Maybe your journey feels like Daniel’s, locked in a chain gang from which there is no escape. Accepting where we are is the first step in changing our focus. Then we can contemplate God’s purpose and accept His plan.
The room may still be strewn with toys and the laundry never-ending, but God knows where you are and what is important. Be reminded that Daniel’s mother probably had similar circumstances in caring for her responsibilities, yet it was her care and teaching that sustained her son in the future. God is with us in the midst of our circumstances. Let’s embrace the purpose He’s given and be renewed.
Daniel and his three friends chose not to eat the food provided by the king. The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary (p. 760) gives several reasons why Daniel might make such a choice:
- The Babylonians ate unclean meats and did not follow Jewish dietary practice.
- The animals were not killed according to Levitical law (Leviticus 17:14, 15).
- The animals, or a portion of them, were probably offered to idols.
- The four boys followed a simple diet at home, and thus were not interested in the heavy meat diet.
An equally important reason and one that applies to us today was that indulging in a rich diet can lead to mental sluggishness and physical decline. The table was not only laden with food, but also drink, probably the finest wine available. To eat and drink without moderation would blunt their intellectual capacity to learn, but also lessen their spiritual discernment. Recognizing they were in a place that had no belief in God, surrounded by idols, with a belief in mysticism and magic, the boys needed to be able to resist temptation. Their goal was a clear mind that would enable them to learn their lessons, but also to stay true to God.
Making it Real
Daniel 1 is always a time to rethink our dietary choices. Daniel requested to be tested 10 days on the vegetarian diet and then see how they compared to their companions. Evaluate your own diet this week and that of your family. What could you eat less of? What could be more in moderation? Should you consider eating vegetarian? Take the 10-day test suggested by Daniel. Write down how you feel before you begin. Then stay true to what have decided for 10 days and see if how you feel at the end.
Merle Poirier writes from Silver Spring, Maryland, where she works as the operation manager for Adventist Review and Adventist World magazines as well as the designer for KidsView, a magazine for 8-12-year-olds. She enjoys spending time with her family including being the grandmother of two active little boys, who greatly enjoy Starting With Jesus.