As I wrote last week, we’re not the first of God’s people to navigate through challenging times. All of the history in the Bible, whether Old Testament or New Testament, finds God’s people in trying times. I believe we can learn a lot from those times to help navigate us today. That’s why I recently released a new book, For Uncertain Times: 40 Truths of God’s Care in National Distress.
I want to give a glimpse not just of my book (though if you want to get a copy please do!), but of how we can gain direction from these times God’s people faced struggles nationally. I shared a glimpse of the Egyptian bondage and the Assyrian invasion found in Daniel 2 when God’s people faced Babylonian invasion, destruction, exile and captivity.
My wife refuses to ever let me set foot inside a casino, not that I would, but that’s beside the point. She feels this way for multiple reasons, but for one she knows I never know when to stop — I don’t. I’m the guy who dropped a whole roll of quarters in one of those stuffed animal crane machines. I kept trying because I just knew the next drop of the crane would be the one— the stuffed animal payday.
Though I possess all the signs of what might likely be a dangerous gambler, I refrain from betting — eh, mostly anyway. I lost $5 to my daughter the other day, betting on how a television show would end. So maybe I still do a little betting, but not much.
While serving in King Nebuchadnezzar’s court, Daniel made an audacious bet. He bet on God. He knew God was a sure bet, but the odds were extreme and the wager was huge.
For a little background, the king placed the advisors in his court in an impossible situation. Following a profound and disturbing dream, the king demanded that they not only interpret the dream but also tell the dream. They all failed. Telling the dream was impossible.
Because of the subjective nature of interpreting dreams, his advisors typically offered smokescreen-type answers; but to tell the contents of the actual dream — now that was tough, crazy even. In Dan. 2:10, those in the court are recorded saying, “There is not a man on earth who can do what the mighty king asks! No king, however great and mighty, has ever asked such a thing.”
On top of making this difficult request, King Nebuchadnezzar threatened to kill everyone in his court. Daniel found himself in a trying situation. He was going to be killed. His friends were going to be killed, and others of the court Daniel became acquainted with also faced impending death. Facing the logical impossibility of telling the content of the king’s dream, Daniel bet on God. He knew nothing is impossible for God. Daniel likely never interpreted a dream before this, and even if he had, he certainly had never been required to independently discover the content of a dream. Knowing God is fully capable of the impossible, Daniel bet on God. He asked the king for more time.
The Scriptures say Daniel then found Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, and asked them to plead with God to provide an answer. The four men used one of the truths for uncertain times we have already mentioned — they prayed. God also carried out one of the truths we’ve mentioned — He answered. In the night, God gave Daniel the dream and the interpretation. Daniel then told the king and all those in the court were spared. God had been a safe bet.
The betting line on God and the impossible remains the same since the day of Daniel. God is still a safe bet. He can still do the impossible. In uncertain times, we need to bet on God in two ways:
• First, when we become a follower of Christ, we’re making a bet on God, or we could say investing in Him with everything in our lives. Simply put, a Christ-follower bets by trusting that the best payoff is to belong to Jesus and follow Him. Each moment we live, we wager our life and eternity on God, or ourselves and this world, so we need to remember God is the winning hand. We will not lose, and ultimately, we will gain the whole world by continuing to cling to Him. As others turn away and the world around you scoffs, don’t change your bet. Don’t flinch. Don’t fold. God wins. If you belong to Him, you have the winning hand, even if it seems the deck is stacked against you. God holds the ace, the royal flush, the unbeatable hand. He will win. Keep on keeping on.
• Second, when your back is against the wall in uncertain times, bet on God. Logically, humanly, there was no possible answer available to Daniel, but he knew God could come through. We must burn that into our minds and keep it in the on-deck circle. When there’s no solution or a way to go — bet on God. He has delivered the impossible over and over again. He’s always able to deliver the impossible. As Jesus once told the disciples, “What is impossible with man is possible with God” (Luke 18:27 NIV).
— Jake is the newest state missionary and would love to share about the work in Northwest Arkansas and encourage your church to stand firm (standfirmministries.com). You can get a copy of Jake’s new book, For Uncertain Times, on Amazon.