Tell that to Daniel.
Daniel was the epitome of good and God-fearing. And he was taken captive. By a pagan king. Into a heathen land.
As if being hauled away from his homeland wasn’t enough, he had to serve the enemy, King Nebuchadnezzar. Since the Bible says the “master of the eunuchs” oversaw him and the other Hebrew slaves, whom we refer to as the three Hebrew boys, its likely they were emasculated. For sure, they were given heathen names. An all-out effort was made to erase their identity and to indoctrinate them in the ways of the Chaldeans.
Because of the dates in which they served Babylon, history says these young men were probably of royal heritage and lived in the times of King Joash’s religious reforms. Daniel chapter 1 says they were exceptional in every way. Handsome. Smart. Capable. Teenagers with a promising future. Youth who likely had visions of choosing a wife and having a family. Young men who looked forward to their tomorrows. They were set for success. After all, King Joash had promoted the laws of God. Their families had maintained righteous integrity. They, themselves, were God-followers. The sun glistened brightly upon the horizon of their lives.
Until, suddenly, things changed.
Their nation rejected God, and God issued judgement. Babylonian flags waved from a surrounding army encampment. The Judah lost its God-protection, and the Chaldeans invaded. Huddled together in the onslaught, Daniel’s family shared final words. His parents whispered hasty reminders to cling to faith. Weeping punctuated final goodbyes. Meanwhile, holy prophets pronounced doom. God wanted Israel and Judah to know that He alone was God, they said. But He didn’t seem too God-like in the moment. Didn't He have a better way of showing it?
Where was His power? Where was His love? Daniel had to feel confused. Hadn’t he and his family served God? Why, then, did he and the Hebrew boys have to be among the suffering? Why were they numbered among the shackled exiles taken into slavery? Others had been left behind, but the clank of their chains carried them farther from both the dead and the living. It didn’t seem right. They weren’t the ones who had rejected God. Yet, He seemed to ignore their plight as they were taken to Babylon to serve their conqueror. Had God played a joke on them, giving them masculine prowess, good looks, intelligence, and talents…only to make them slaves who need no other skill than a blank expression and an obedient bow?
But God had not forsaken Daniel and his comrades. His purpose for them was as clear as it had ever been. And somehow, though the situations were as adverse as they could become, Daniel and the three Hebrew boys kept the faith.
This faith didn’t start in the fiery furnace or the lions’ den. It started at their parents’ feet learning about the God of their forefathers. There, faith budded, and it grew with every trial. The iron chains around their ankles built faith muscles that marched them into new places of God's presence. The de-humanization rituals of their captivity reminded them that their reliance was on God, not their own abilities. Forfeiting the king’s rich foods and wine in favor of veggies and water honed their awareness that God was their strength and sustainer.
Time and again, they lived out their spiritual dedication to the One who’d let bad things happen to them. Their prayer life didn’t diminish under the stress. They didn’t forsake spiritual disciplines amid the pressure to conform. They were steady in the tumult of confusion. Situation by situation they overcame. Their faith expanded. Until lions’ dens and fiery furnaces couldn’t hold them. Until pagan kings recognized the King of kings. Until God elevated Himself in the eyes of His people because of their stand. Until they were given recognition, wealth, and position in a foreign land. Until the fame of their faith resounded all the way into the 21st century…and beyond.
Yes. Bad things happened to these good men. But so did the good. So did the better. So did the best. The bad was just a pathway to something special. For those who trust God, it always is. They say, good things happen to God’s people.
Tip/Tidbit: In your present state, God is with you. He is for you. He has a beautiful plan. Trust Him, even when it looks bleak. Good things are ahead!