Okay, I will admit that this seems really random to me and kinda specific, but it’s been hitting me pretty hard lately, and this morning when I was reading my Bible, it continued to pound itself into my mind, so I figured maybe I should write this down.
Most people know the story of Daniel, the guy who was thrown into the lion’s den. It’s a classic children’s Sunday school felt board story, and also an amusing Veggietales story. But a part of his story is looked over at times- the part where he was just a kid, training in Babylon. This king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, came to Jerusalem and took some articles from the temple of God and took it to the temple of his Babylonian god. Sounds pretty awful, honestly.
So, Nebuchadnezzar decided he wanted some Jews to serve him- “young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace”. (Daniel 1:4) Turns out Daniel was smart and attractive and good enough for this God-hating king to allow to be present in his palace, and so Daniel was brought in.
If I were in this situation, I’d be paranoid. Like, “This king wants me to serve him and learn everything about this foreign, secular place. I’m supposed to spend my life working under a guy who hates God? Ha, no. This couldn’t be God’s plan. Forget this.”
But it was God’s plan. This first chapter of Daniel goes on to explain that God caused those in power over Daniel to “show favor and have sympathy to him”, and God even gave “knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning.” Even learning the language of this secular nation. Daniel became a well-rounded student, taught by and subject to haters of his God. I wonder if he ever wondered, if he ever doubted. He must’ve been confused at some point, wondering why God would have him here, excelling. Daniel loved God; he must’ve been concerned with seeing God at work. And he surely didn’t see God using him as he studied Babylonian literature day after day. Yet he was excelling. Favor was being shown to him. Did Daniel ever wonder why God would give him such understanding and wisdom if he was just to stay in the secular king’s palace?
Fast forward, and Daniel is arising from the lion’s den, testifying to a secular king about how his God saved him, though it seemed all hope was lost. He is giving God the glory. In those seemingly meaningless days where Daniel was studying and learning, God was putting his plan into place.
So, look at Nehemiah. Nehemiah was, like Daniel, serving in the king’s courts. He was the cupbearer to the king of the Persian empire while the Jews were living among the ashes of a destroyed Jerusalem. I’m sure at times, being a servant to an ungodly king, he wondered what God’s purpose was. How was God working through him? What good was this doing for God’s kingdom? Yet again, God used this circumstance to do His work. Nehemiah’s cupbearing status allowed him to be close to the king, who by God’s grace, allowed him to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls of the Holy City. Those days serving in the king’s court did not go in vain. There was a purpose, even when it must’ve felt like there was none.
This is also true with Joseph in Egypt. And with Esther. Esther was a Jewish girl, brought into the Persian courts because she had a pretty face and the king needed a wife. If you didn’t know this, she spent a good two years being treated with beauty treatments, soaking in oil, and having cosmetics and perfumes be put all over her. Two years in a secular king’s courts being made to look pretty, so she could get married to some king she’s never met. You know she had to be confused on what God was doing. She had to, at some point of being sprayed with perfume for six months straight, wonder what in the world God was doing. How could this be God’s plan? And when she eventually married the Persian king, I doubt there was complete clarity on why she was chosen to be the queen of Persia.
Things suddenly became clear when she learned that her people, God’s people, were going to be destroyed in her empire. Suddenly, Esther was the only one who could do anything to save these people. Suddenly, there was a reason to be beautified for two years. Suddenly, it was clear that, as her cousin put it, she had “come into royal position for such a time as this”. Suddenly, those years of seemingly meaningless hours of perfume were no longer meaningless, but the means of God continuing His people in this area. And by God’s grace and Esther’s situation, the Jews were saved.
So, what’s the point? Well, if you’ve ever wondered why you’re wasting your life in Calculus, or wasting your money on Biology classes, or wasting your time making sandwiches on the weekends, know that it isn’t a waste. God has you in that secular school you can’t stand for a reason. He will use your circumstances, even the seemingly worthless ones, to bring His plan to pass if you allow Him. There’s a reason you are where you are, even if it seem impossible to understand. He has it all under control, so the only thing to do is to obey Him where you are. I mean, Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” Even Daniel studying all types of literature in Babylon brought honor to God, even if Daniel couldn’t understand that at first. Sometimes getting through your meaningless days is a matter of trusting God over trying to understand. You were put where you are for such a time as this, and even if you can’t see what God can see, He does have a unique plan to bring glory to Himself if you are obedient. He’ll help you out, I can promise you that. Just hang in there, and don’t forget to do everything for His glory!
Colossians 3:17 “And whatever you do, whether in word or in deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
Oh, hey, it’s worth mentioning that sometimes God does call you to leave the situation you’re in. Just throwing that out there before I get accused of telling people that the situation you’re in is exactly where you need to be. You are where you are right now for a reason, but that doesn’t mean you should necessarily stay there.