How to handle stressful situations

Straight from the Book of Daniel…

What have you faced recently that has caused you stress? For me, it was a conflict with my ex-wife that was threaded through our children. To discuss it here would be a waste of space and unnecessarily one-sided in my account, undoubtedly, so I’ll refrain. For the purpose of this blog, let me just say, it was very stressful.

Being a young man when the Jews were exiled out of the Holy Land in about 608 BC, Daniel and his compatriots proved themselves to be exceptional young men and were appointed as “wise men”, ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all (the) kingdom.”  (Daniel 1:20). 

But, as Spiderman’s Uncle Ben famously said, “With great power comes great peril when your boss has lethal whims.” Or something like that.

In Daniel chapter 2, King Nebuchadnezzar has a dream that he is sure has great meaning. (He’s right, by the way.) Being part monarch and part whimsical megalomaniac, he decides that since the wise men who happen to be in his court at the time can’t explain his dream to him (in part, it should be noted, because he refuses to TELL them what his dream was!)

“If you do not make known to me the dream and its interpretation, you shall be torn limb from limb, and your houses shall be laid in ruins. But if you show the dream and its interpretation, you shall receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor. Therefore show me the dream and its interpretation.” They answered a second time and said, “Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will show its interpretation.” (Daniel 2:6-8)

No go. Nebuchadnezzar figured they’d just make something grand-sounding up, and he wasn’t going to have any of that. The counselors finally gave up:

There is not a man on earth who can meet the king’s demand, for no great and powerful king has asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or Chaldean. The thing that the king asks is difficult, and no one can show it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.” (Daniel 2:10-11)

Being a thoughtful and reasoned man, King Nebuchadnezzar commanded that ALL the wise men of Babylon be destroyed. So the decree went out, and the wise men were about to be killed; and they sought Daniel and his companions, to kill them.” (Daniel 2:12-13)


So…what would YOU do? 

Here is the checklist that Daniel follows, probably without thinking about it formally…

1. Stay calm.

2. Find the facts. 

3. Belay the consequences as much as you can – give yourself the time to figure the situation out rationally.

4. Get help from your “team”.

5. Go to God with your troubles! Consulting with Him at every step is implied. And THANK Him for both His PAST help and His FUTURE assistance!

6. Give credit (above!) where credit is due. 

All right? Let’s examine the Scripture and see how Daniel applied these elements, starting with chapter 2, verses 14-16:

Then Daniel replied with prudence and discretion to Arioch, the captain of the king’s guard, who had gone out to kill the wise men of Babylon. He declared to Arioch, the king’s captain, “Why is the decree of the king so urgent?” Then Arioch made the matter known to Daniel. And Daniel went in and requested the king to appoint him a time, that he might show the interpretation to the king.

(Just to summarize a bit: Daniel was blindsided by Arioch’s guard, and wanted to find some explanation. Notice also that Daniel’s previous positive credibility with the king stood him in good stead herebecause it gave him standing with the king that he might be up to the task. Build your credibility wherever you can, like a bank account – you never know when you’re going to need to make a sudden withdrawal!Continuing with verses 17-19:

Then Daniel went to his house and made the matter known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions, and told them to seek mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that Daniel and his companions might not be destroyed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision of the night. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven.

On the outside looking in, it sure seems that God set this situation up for Daniel to gain more credibility with the king. 

Here’s an important point: When dealing with the Almighty, all-powerful Creator of the Universe?… Don’t forget that teensy-weensy little detail about Him, alright? He’s GOD:

Daniel answered and said:

“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,
to whom belong wisdom and might.
He changes times and seasons;
he removes kings and sets up kings;
he gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to those who have understanding;
he reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what is in the darkness,
and the light dwells with him.
To you, O God of my fathers,
I give thanks and praise,
for you have given me wisdom and might,
and have now made known to me what we asked of you,
for you have made known to us the king’s matter.”

(Daniel 2:20-23)

Why bother printing this all out? Because it’s important to God. Therefore, it’s important to usNever forget what a privilege it is to be able to come to the Master of the Universe with our requests, our praise, and our love! 

Honestly, this is as much for ME today as for you! I struggle with not “short-cutting” a prayer with the love of The Lord abbreviated for “convenience”. Whose? HIS? Or MINE? What a stupid thought! Time is meaningless to Him. Only LOVE matters. 

Alright, back to the lesson. 

Therefore Daniel went in to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to destroy the wise men of Babylon. He went and said thus to him: “Do not destroy the wise men of Babylon; bring me in before the king, and I will show the king the interpretation.”

Then Arioch brought in Daniel before the king in haste and said thus to him: “I have found among the exiles from Judah a man who will make known to the king the interpretation.” The king declared to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, “Are you able to make known to me the dream that I have seen and its interpretation?” 

Note: the correct answer is NOT “Yes”See step 6, above.

Daniel answered the king and said,No wise men, enchanters, magicians, or astrologers can show to the king the mystery that the king has asked, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and he has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days. Your dream and the visions of your head as you lay in bed are these: To you, O king, as you lay in bed came thoughts of what would be after this, and he who reveals mysteries made known to you what is to be. But as for me, this mystery has been revealed to me, not because of any wisdom that I have more than all the living, but in order that the interpretation may be made known to the king, and that you may know the thoughts of your mind.” (Daniel 2:27-30)


So, Daniel and his compadres were facing a sudden death situation that was NOT of their own doing in any way. But by staying calmfinding the factsgo to God for helpenlisting his friends, and most of all praising God before, during, and after the process

As a postscript, Daniel faced a similar situation in chapter four that was more difficult. This situation in chapter 2 was a positive for the king, who was told by God that he was in charge of the strongest kingdom of the four to come. In chapter 4, however, God tells Nebuchadnezzar that when he next screws up and forgets who he is in comparison to God, the Lord would reduce him to being a wild animal, like a cow or a crow, until his lesson was learned. 

However, because of the credibility that Daniel had developed over the years with the king, and because of the tact that he used in sharing the interpretation of his dream, the maniacally whimsical Nebuchadnezzar didn’t hold it against his wise man. Read Daniel 4:19

Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was dismayed for a while, and his thoughts alarmed him. The king answered and said, “Belteshazzar, let not the dream or the interpretation alarm you.” Belteshazzar answered and said, “My lord, may the dream be for those who hate you and its interpretation for your enemies!”

 

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