[vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″ shape_divider_position=”bottom”][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” column_border_radius=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][vc_column_text]Last week, we kicked off a new series, Anomaly, that looks at the life of Daniel and how he was able to live counter-culturally in a culture that was consistently moving further from God. He was an anomaly in his world—someone different than what was considered the “norm.” We saw how Daniel was able to resist cultural pressure and stay true to his values and faith. This week, we’ll look at how Daniel continued to set himself apart in Babylon during his response to crisis.
Just like Daniel, we live in a world that’s a constant flow of fear and insecurity. Whether it’s something we see on the news—the economy’s ups and downs, natural disasters or wars—or something more personal, like the prospect of losing a job or a marriage, it seems like there’s always something to be fearful about. No matter what crisis we’re facing, we—like Daniel—have a choice: will we respond in fear or courageous faith?
Question: What are some crises you’ve faced in your life? Is your initial response to them fear-filled, or have you begun to respond to them with faith?
Read Daniel 2.1–18.
By Daniel’s response to the prospect of losing his life, we can learn about how to live with faith in a world that’s dominated by fear. It means that we trust in God in spite of our circumstances and respond to life’s crises with faith-filled courage. There are three steps to this kind of faith-response to fear and crisis.
1. Pray first.
It seems like in our culture, prayer has become a last resort. Usually, our immediate response to a crisis is to spring into action and try to do everything we possibly can to solve the problem. We become self-reliant and self-absorbed in finding a solution. Daniel had the same option; he could have easily chosen to rely on his own intellect and abilities to interpret the king’s dream. Instead, he turned to God first.
There’s definitely a time for taking action and proactively responding to our lives’ crises. But that time has to come after we spend time in prayer, asking God for guidance and courage. When we feel fear, intentionally moving our heart to a place of trust, through prayer, is the most important thing we can do.
Question: Is prayer your immediate reaction to crisis, or do you attempt to solve problems on your own first? What steps can you take to remind yourself to always pray first?
2. Praise God in spite of our circumstances.
Read Daniel 2.19–23.
Even though God revealed the meaning of the king’s dream to Daniel, his life was still in danger. The Jewish people were still in captivity, and Daniel had to tell the king that the meaning of the dream wasn’t a good one at all. In spite of all of this, he chooses to thank God for His faithfulness and praise Him for who He is. Daniel recognized that praise is an incredibly powerful weapon to use in the face of fear.
In Acts 16, Paul and Silas were imprisoned for sharing the gospel. It probably wasn’t easy for them to praise God in that situation, but they chose to do it anyway. And God showed up! When we’re facing difficult circumstances, praise is powerful and effective.
In John 16.33, we’re basically guaranteed that we’ll face crises in life. But we’re also guaranteed that Jesus wins. He has the victory, and He has overcome the world. So even when we’re in incredibly difficult situations—where it seems impossible to praise—we can look to God’s past, present and even future faithfulness as a reason to praise. We can think back on the ways He’s worked in our lives in the past as we praise Him for who He is.
Question: What are some of the unchanging characteristics of God for which you can praise Him, no matter your circumstances? Make a list of them—and verses to support them—to read the next time you’re confronted with a crisis.
3. Give God all the glory.
When the king asked if Daniel could interpret his dream, Daniel responded by saying no. He said that no one in Babylon would be able to do it, and that his own ability to interpret the dream came from God and God alone. It would’ve been easy for Daniel to take the credit and hope for the king’s favor based on his intellect and abilities. Instead, he gave all the glory and credit to God.
In our culture, it’s common to think that our abilities, giftedness and talents are what get us through life’s tough times. The truth, though, is that without God’s faithfulness, grace and mercy, we would fail over and over again.
Read Psalm 115.1.
When we give glory to God, our ability to influence the people around us for His kingdom grows. In Daniel’s case, the king—and eventually all of Babylon—came to know God because Daniel was willing to give God the credit instead of taking it for himself.
Question: What kinds of reactions have you received from people when you’ve given God the credit and glory for getting you through a storm? If you’ve never done that, think of situations where you took credit when it truly belonged to God.