I don’t think this comes as a surprise to anyone but there are some really crazy things transpiring not just in our country but in the world right now. It feels as though we are in an unparalleled times right now. We’ve just come through and are perhaps still in a global health pandemic, we are witnessing extreme accounts of injustice happening at home and abroad. We’ve got riots and looting, cities burning. As if all of that was not enough we now hear reports of something known as a “murder hornet”. I mean can there be a more menacing sounding name and could it come on to the scene at a worse time? And then on top of that I saw an article that cicadas were coming back to the eastern region of the states. We are literally experiencing plagues. All of this reminds me of the meme I saw the other day with the woman squinting off into the distance and the caption that read, “What chapter of Revelation are we living out today?”
Here’s what I think I’ve known all along but have recently been reminded of over the last several months.
I can’t always control what happens in the world.
Now right about now you may be thinking, “This guy’s a real downer.” But before you throw in the towel and go searching for something more encouraging allow me to draw a parallel to the Old Testament figure of Daniel. It was Daniel who found himself in a similarly “out of his control” type of situation. Check out BibleGateway and what Daniel 1:1-7 (NASB) says.
If there was ever a situation that was out of Daniel’s control, this was it. Daniel’s city, Jerusalem in the country of Judah was through no fault of Daniel’s overrun and besieged by the people of Babylon. Daniel suddenly found himself in captivity and being whisked off to a foreign land and forced into a program and a regiment that was designed in essence to erase his heritage and “enlighten” him in the ways of his captor’s culture. Efforts were made to not only re-program Daniel and his companions but their identities, their very names were changed to reflect this new, harsh, out of their control, reality.
Much like you and I over these last months Daniel and his companions found themselves at a loss for how to handle what seemed to be completely out of their control. It’s in the midst of this hopeless feeling that we see in Daniel a ray of hope. It’s in this midst of this hopelessness that we see in Daniel a powerful example of what we can do.
Check out Daniel's powerful example in Daniel 1:8 (NASB).
When Daniel realized that what was going on around him was out of his control, when he realized that he had to buckle up for what was sure to be a bumpy ride he made the decision to take hold of the only thing he could control - HIMSELF. Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself.
I don’t want us to miss this morning that even when everything around us is spinning wildly out of control, when we can do nothing but stare in disbelief at the lack of value for human life, when everyone else seems to clearly be cashing in the chips on God’s plan, we as believers not only can but should commit ourselves afresh and anew to living lives of holiness. We should as Daniel and his companions did, commit ourselves to not defiling the Lord.
Now, before you are quick to say, “Not I”, I think each of us runs the risk of defiling the Lord in times like these.
In the midst of a completely out of control situation, Daniel made a hard and fast commitment to not allow his commitment to the Lord to waiver.
How many of you know that the devil’s greatest desire is to convince you that your story has been written? His greatest desire is to convince you that your responses have already been scripted. His greatest desire is to convince you that you are merely a player in a grand narrative that you can neither control nor respond to of your own free will. That’s the devil’s modus operandi. You are a victim of your circumstances.
We’ve allowed our culture to dictate for us what our responses must be. What we see in the life of Daniel though is a different way. Daniel refused to allow his response to be dictated to him. His backstory had been written, the antagonist of the script had been introduced in Nebuchadnezzar as the conquering king, the gauntlet had been thrown down, Daniel was going to be forced to defile his relationship with the Lord. It was as if everyone around Daniel were working together to force him into a situation where he felt like his only option was to give up on his commitment to the Lord.
It was in that moment that Daniel made the decision to snatch the pen back from the devil. He made the conscious choice to not allow his script to be written by anyone but God Himself. He was not going to throw away his commitment to holiness because of his circumstances. Be encouraged and keep moving forward.