Thursday, March 17, 2011

Trusting God for the Outcome

Dan. 1:8-19 NLT
    8 But Daniel was determined not to defile himself by eating the food and wine given to them by the king. He asked the chief of staff for permission not to eat these unacceptable foods. 9 Now God had given the chief of staff both respect and affection for Daniel. 10 But he responded, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has ordered that you eat this food and wine. If you become pale and thin compared to the other youths your age, I am afraid the king will have me beheaded.” 
   11 Daniel spoke with the attendant who had been appointed by the chief of staff to look after Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. 12 “Please test us for ten days on a diet of vegetables and water,” Daniel said. 13 “At the end of the ten days, see how we look compared to the other young men who are eating the king’s food. Then make your decision in light of what you see.” 14 The attendant agreed to Daniel’s suggestion and tested them for ten days. 
   15 At the end of the ten days, Daniel and his three friends looked healthier and better nourished than the young men who had been eating the food assigned by the king. 16 So after that, the attendant fed them only vegetables instead of the food and wine provided for the others. 
   17 God gave these four young men an unusual aptitude for understanding every aspect of literature and wisdom. And God gave Daniel the special ability to interpret the meanings of visions and dreams.
   18  When the training period ordered by the king was completed, the chief of staff brought all the young men to King Nebuchadnezzar. 19 The king talked with them, and no one impressed him as much as Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. So they entered the royal service. 20 Whenever the king consulted them in any matter requiring wisdom and balanced judgment, he found them ten times more capable than any of the magicians and enchanters in his entire kingdom.

Imagine the circumstance of these young men, most likely in their late teens or early 20's. They had been taken captive by a foreign army and forced to walk thousands of miles back to the enemy's capital city. Then they were enrolled in a training school, having to speak and learn in a language that was not their native tongue. Further more, even their dietary preferences, chosen out of fidelity to their religion and to God, was being replaced. How strong would you or I have been in their situation? Yet they respectfully spoke up and drew a line when it came to disobeying their practice of devotion to God first. While all the other trainees were feasting on rich foods and alcohol, these brave young men declined in favor of vegetables and water in stead. They even proposed a 'test' to their overseer. Since this was an academic institution, tests were always appropriate. They were not putting God to the test but to the Babylonian leaders it was an opportunity to test these foreigner's religious diet-- a direct comparison. This would be good research so they agreed. They fully expected, I'm sure, that the null hypothesis would be true-- that is, that the young men's requested diet would not prove to be healthier than that of the others.  Daniel and his companions, however, knew what God would do. They believed and trusted in God's protection-- even in this time of captivity.

Of course God won the test. Scripture tells us that in just 10 days, Daniel and his three friends would be obviously healthier than all the rest of the trainees who had eaten the other diet. And, in fact, by the time of graduation from the academy, these four were so superior to all the rest that the emperor selected them to join his personal team of advisers. Scripture records that this king found these faithful God-followers, to be "ten times more capable" than all the rest of those in his service.

When we trust God and remain faithful to His will, even under opposition and in strange circumstances, we can know, for certain, that the outcome for us will be the best it could be and we will be a blessing to others as well.
Your servant in Christ

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