What do you do when the waves hit?
What do you do when the waves hit?
As we all learned from The Princess Bride, life is pain. Anyone who tells you different is trying to sell you something.
We’ve all got challenges to deal with. Waves that threaten to crash on our heads. Maybe right now it’s a financial wave. Christmas is over and now all the credit card bills are coming due. The stock market tanked, and so did all your savings. Maybe our wonderful leaders in Washington took away your paycheck this month.
Maybe you’re about to be pummeled by a professional wave. It’s the start of a new year, so your boss has laid down new targets and deadlines on you. You’ve got no idea how you’re going to do it all.
So what do you do when the waves hit?
Daniel provides a great example. He was a teenager in a noble family in Judah. When the Babylonians invaded Judah, Daniel was ripped away from his home. He was dragged all the way to Babylon, and forced into a re-education camp, where they forced Jewish boys to become Babylonians.
It was just about as bad of a situation as anyone could find themselves in. But somehow, Daniel saw the sovereign and gracious hand of God behind it all. Probably because he saw the gifts of God in it all.
Three times in Daniel 1, it says, “God gave.” So if we’re going to be propelled by the wave (like Daniel), rather than being pounded by the wave (like the Babylonian kings), we need to look for God’s gifts in the wave:
Look for God’s discipline.
It says in Daniel 1:2, “The Lord gave King Jehoiakim of Judah over to [King Nebuchadnezzar], along with some of the vessels from the house of God.” Because Israel had strayed away from God, and needed discipline to be driven back to God.
God’s discipline is a gift. It doesn’t feel like it when you’re in the middle of it, but the Bible says over and over that God disciplines those whom he loves. He’ll make your life just painful enough that you’ll rely more on him. You think he’s taking something away, but in reality he’s giving you something better. He’s giving you himself!
So when challenges come, don’t fight against the wave. Ride the wave! Remember that one of God’s gifts is discipline.
Look for God’s grace.
When Daniel was brought to the re-education camp in the king’s palace, it says “God granted Daniel kindness and compassion from the chief” (Daniel 1:9). It’s a little reminder that God didn’t abandon his people when he sent them to Babylon. He should have. They abandoned him repeatedly. But he was still with them. Still blessing them. Still providing for them.
That’s his grace, and he’s always offering his grace to you. Even if you brought this wave on your own head. You might have made some really bad choices. You might have brought pain and suffering on yourself. Well, God’s not going to rub it in your face. He’s not going to say, “I told you so.”
He’s going wait for you to come to him, and then he’s going to give you his grace. The grace of his son Jesus Christ. Jesus died on the cross to take the punishment you deserve for all your bad choices you’ve made in life. Then he rose from the grave to give you new life, and the ability to make good choices in life! And that’s what leads to his third gift.
Look for God’s strength.
As Daniel and his friends completed their training, it says, “God gave these four young men knowledge and understanding in every kind of literature and wisdom. Daniel also understood visions and dreams of every kind” (Daniel 1:17). Daniel then used this gifting to advise the king of Babylon.
God uses the waves in your life to strengthen you, so you can come alongside other people when they get hit by a wave. Think your challenges are all about you? They’re about empowering you to help the people around you with their challenges.
Daniel gave advice to the king of Babylon, the most powerful man in the world! That wouldn’t have been possible if Daniel was still in his nice comfortable house in Jerusalem. He had to receive God’s discipline and then God’s grace, so he could receive God’s strength and then extend God’s grace to the people around him.
There are people in your life who are dealing with big challenges right now. They need you to receive God’s grace and God’s strength so you can encourage them and bless them.