How can WE face PROBLEMS effectively like DANIEL? "Then with counsel and wisdom Daniel answered Arioch, the captain of the king's guard, who had gone out to kill the wise men of Babylon; he answered and said to Arioch the king's captain, 'Why is the decree from the king so urgent?' Then Arioch made the decision known to Daniel. So Daniel went in and asked the king to give him time that he might tell the king the interpretation. Then Daniel went to his house, and made the decision known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions, that they might seek mercies from the God of heaven concerning this secret, so that Daniel and his companions might not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. Then the secret was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. So Daniel blessed the God of heaven." (Dan. 2:14-19)
It is sometimes difficult, even impossible, for us as mortal humans to understand how God is implementing His predestined plan to further both His glory and our good based on Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” In the case of Daniel, God initiated His plan by troubling King Nebuchadnezzar with dreams, so much so that he could not sleep (v. 1). In order to compound the situation, the king demanded from all the astrologers, magicians and sorcerers in his kingdom to both reveal his dream and interpret it (vv. 2-9). Rightly so, these men admitted that this was an impossible task that only God could do (vv. 10-11). This provoked the king to intense anger as he ordered all the wise men to be executed (vv. 12-13).
When the soldiers came to kill Daniel, he acted with calm courage and perfect assurance that God would meet his need of the hour. God’s providential workings may be seen in Daniel’s speech, the considerate reactions of Arioch, and Daniel’s opportunity for an audience with the king (vv. 14-15). Daniel requested for a little time and promised that he would reveal the dream and interpret it to the king - all by faith (v. 16). Daniel had realized that human wisdom was insufficient to meet the king’s demand, and knew that only divine revelation could provide the answer!
Having committed himself to reveal the dream and its interpretation, Daniel called upon his three friends to seek God’s face in prayer. Despite his education and expertise, Daniel still knew that prayer was the first step in a crisis situation. We should note that even though Daniel had special, God-given abilities, he and his friends still had to pray! In these precarious moments of his life, Daniel made use of two valuable resources: three close friends who shared his spiritual faith and the power of prayer (vv. 17–18).
Daniel and his friends knew the ‘God of heaven’ who is merciful (v. 18), answers prayer (vv. 19–23), reveals secrets (v. 28), establishes rulers (v. 37), and will one day set up His kingdom (v. 44). This group of prayer partners united together and fought a spiritual battle on their knees against despair and defeat. Now, they had no one but God who could help them to understand the king’s dream or otherwise deliver them from certain death!
When we face problems, to whom do we turn for support, wisdom, encouragement and solutions? Daniel’s experience teaches us that a close knit of trustworthy friends who can offer godly wisdom and prayer support may be worth more than a dozen acquaintances with the ‘right’ connections. It is thus important that we should always cultivate the type of friendship that will sustain us in the worst of times, and intentionally make investments in these friendships.
God’s revelation came to Daniel in a night vision, proving that he had gone to sleep after his prayers. Daniel immediately thanked the Lord for answering his prayer. As Daniel, we must remember to pray as the first resort, not the last, and then not forget to thank God when He graciously answers our requests. Finally, when Daniel explained the dream to the king, he gave the glory to God (v. 28) and shared the credit with his three friends who had stood by him earlier (v. 49).
How can we face problems effectively like Daniel? Daniel and his friends provide us with an effective model of faithful testimony under the threat of death. Let us follow their example, and implement the following five steps when we face problems in our lives:
- Step 1: Trust God to give us wise and tactful words when speaking to antagonists (v. 14). Let us discipline ourselves to speak words that are soft and entreating, not full of threats for "a soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger" (Prov. 15:1).
- Step 2: When facing threatening circumstances, turn quickly to the Lord for help (vv. 17-18). Believe that God is able to deliver us from the most difficult circumstances. "Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved" (Ps. 55:22).
- Step 3: Enlist the prayers of one or more friends who will sincerely join us to pray in unity (vv. 17-18). This is what our Lord Jesus has promised us: "if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven" (Matt. 18:19)
- Step 4: Thank God and praise Him profusely for answering our prayers (vv. 19b-23). This is just what the psalmist decides to do: "What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits toward me? I will take up the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord" (Ps. 116:12-13).
- Step 5: Bear testimony before others of the great things that God has done for us (vv. 27-28). This is what the psalmist does as a follow-up: "I will pay my vows to the Lord now in the presence of all His people" (Ps. 116:14).