The Christian experiences and lives a paradox. He possesses joy in sorrow, fulfillment in exile, light in darkness, peace in turmoil, consolation in dryness, contentment in pain and hope in desolation. — Mother Angelica

Right now, you’re probably gearing up for some sort of an encounter with the world where you dwell in exile. This world and this society is not your home. As a citizen of heaven, you’re a foreigner in these lands. Your “exile” will be a reality as you go to work, go to school, turn on the television, etc… Each of these encounters will bring up an excellent fundamental question: How do the people of God—Christ followers who are in Jesus Christ—live in exile now?

You’re probably tempted to just hunker down and survive this season, whatever it looks like. Daniel and his friends had choices to make. Yes, they could have just done the minimum to survive. But instead, they did something even more powerful: Against all odds, they thrived.

To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds. At the end of the time set by the king to bring them into his service, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar. The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king’s service. In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom. And Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus. (Daniel 1:17-21)

Daniel’s story begins in 603 BC when the first Judeans were taken into captivity in Babylon. King Cyrus let the people of Israel go back to Jerusalem in 539 BC, almost 70 years later. Daniel outlasted all six of the great kings of the Babylonian Empire and survived even into the Persian Empire. 

This is, then, the great lesson from Daniel Chapter 1. It will probably never be as bad for us as it was for them in Babylon. And yet those guys thrived. Maybe it’s possible for us too. Indeed, Daniel thrived in a life he never would have chosen for himself.

And so can you.

God of heaven and earth, thank you that this narrative is historically true and teaches us how to live today. We long to know how to thrive. Please teach us. I’m trusting in You to give me “knowledge and understanding of all kinds.” I can’t do this in my own wisdom. I will mess it up every time unless You move in my heart and my mind. Lord, give me a heart like Daniel’s. Then, show me how You want to live through me moment by moment today. Then, by the power of Your Spirit in me, live that life through me. Amen.

Taken from Pete’s series Living in Exile: God Working Behind the Scenes.