September 11, 2001 was a normal Tuesday. I was in 9th grade, still getting used to the new high school schedule. I was sitting in my earth sciences class when cell phones started to vibrate and once my teacher’s phone rang, she picked up. Then we turned on the television and we saw the news. The day ended early. Coming out of class, there were frantic voices all over the halls. Many of us didn’t know what was going on and didn’t know what it all meant. The entire day was caught up in confusion. We didn’t know if other planes were compromised. Many thought it was the start of war.
Trouble almost always never announces its coming. And most signs of trouble are recognized in hindsight. And other times, people warn us of signs of trouble out of their own experience. But the troubles that we are never ready for, those happen unexpectedly and when it comes, it comes down hard. Those are moments of crisis and Daniel found himself in that kind of situation in Daniel chapter 2.
Death at Your Doorstep
The Chaldeans answered the king and said, “There is not a man on earth who can meet the king’s demand, for no great and powerful king has asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or Chaldean. The thing that the king asks is difficult, and no one can show it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.”
Because of this the king was angry and very furious, and commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be destroyed. So the decree went out, and the wise men were about to be killed; and they sought Daniel and his companions, to kill them. Then Daniel replied with prudence and discretion to Arioch, the captain of the king’s guard, who had gone out to kill the wise men of Babylon. He declared to Arioch, the king’s captain, “Why is the decree of the king so urgent?” Then Arioch made the matter known to Daniel. And Daniel went in and requested the king to appoint him a time, that he might show the interpretation to the king.Daniel 2:10-16 (ESV)
We all know what happened on 9/11 but there is an entire generation that only read about it in their history class textbooks. But for those old enough living near the NYC Metro area, it made a lasting mark on many regardless of whether or not we knew the people who had died that day. If we weren’t sure that day, we sure found out the next day.
September 12, 2001. Walking into school, you felt it right way. It felt like the panic you feel when you’re jumping over waves in the ocean and one big wave catches you by surprise and you go under. There were so many empty tables in every class. The entire school began each period with a moment of silence. Kids would randomly burst in tears. There were no dry eyes that day.
It’s been almost 18 years and memories have faded. But the feelings of uncertainty, fear, confusion, sorrow, and anger that flooded the hearts of so many that day and the days afterwards can still be felt today.
But for Daniel, death itself was at his doorstep. It was not a news story about a tragedy that occurred somewhere else. So the panic I felt probably could not compare to the panic Daniel felt as he realized that the captain of the king’s guard had come to put him and his friends to death. Daniel did the only thing that would buy them some time which was to tell them that he would interpret the dream.
Faith Doesn’t Wait For Certainty
The most amazing thing is, he had no idea as to what the king’s dream was nor how to interpret it. That in itself was quite a remarkable reaction to the crisis. And from the previous chapter, we can know that it was not out of a baseless faith. Daniel had experienced the favor of God in exile. God had given them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel in particular had been given understanding in all visions and dreams.
Faith therefore is something you can foster. And faithfully walking in obedience to God’s Word and His convictions allows for faith to grow because it is through obedience that your eyes are opened to God’s faithfulness and His blessings. As faith grows, our ability to react to the troubles of this world with faith grows.
Prepared for Crisis
They call 9/11 the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history. However, in the midst of all the chaos, there came out stories of extraordinary bravery and heroism. Do you know what most of these people had in common? Some were regular workers in the towers, some were pedestrians passing by, some drove into Manhattan from elsewhere and the reoccurring similarity between many of them was how their experiences had prepared them to act. They were former volunteer fire fighters, military veterans, and the like. Their past experiences and training prepared them to act accordingly during the state of crisis even though they had no idea what was really going on. Their actions saved thousands that day.
What is our lives preparing us for? What is the decisions that we make and the way we spend our time preparing us for? Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of his overseers so that he might remain holy before God and in his conscience. Daniel’s faithfulness opened the doors for God’s blessing and it was his experience of God’s favor and blessings that gave him enough faith in the face of death to ask the captain of the king’s guard why the decree of the king to kill all the wise men of Babylon was so urgent and subsequently request a time to meet with the king to interpret a dream that Daniel had absolutely no idea about.
What can we be faithful in to open up doors of God’s blessings? Because God’s favor and blessings are not only meant to be praised and delighted in but also meant to prepare us for the troubles to come, troubles even to death.