During my third year of university, I accepted an internship in Washington DC working at a think tank and lobbying firm called The Family Research Council. The experience afforded me the opportunity to connect with a wide range of political insiders.
One of the people I spent time with during my internship had previously worked as a staffer in the Reagan Administration. He shared with me a fascinating story about President Reagan’s ability to deftly respond to hostile situations. One day, while riding in the presidential motorcade, the vehicle came to a stop and was surrounded by a crowd of young protestors. As the young men and women vehemently asserted their remonstrance for a particular policy, they began chanting, “we are the future.” According to the story, Reagan quickly grabbed a piece of paper and calmly wrote a few words. He held the paper up to the window of the limousine, displaying the words, “I’ll sell my stocks.”
President Reagan never seemed rattled or uncertain in public. This is the same man, who stood at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on a cloudy spring day in 1987 and boldly declared, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” His words were always calculated, always filled with a sense of thought and consideration. He never came off as rash or impulsive, always exuding air of prudence and discretion.
The story of Daniel contains many similarities and parallels with the life of Ronald Reagan. Both men experienced the highs and lows of the human experience. Reagan was raised in a poor rural farming family. Through education and hard work he climbed a convoluted career ladder to ultimately become the leader of the free world. Daniel’s nation was conquered by a foreign empire and through education, hard work and diligence, he rose to the highest political position in the world at that time. Reagan effected political policy that helped lead to the fall of the iron curtain in Russia, forever altering the course of human history. Likewise, Daniel’s insight and advice was heeded by 4 different kings, each of whom presided over the dominant global hegemony of the time. Frequently Daniel’s leadership caused entire empires to shift course in response to the wisdom and insight he offered.
Early in Daniel’s life we encounter his ability to engage hostile circumstances with a courageous and an absolutely level headed demeanor. In the second chapter of the book we read that King Nebuchadnezzar, the most powerful ruler in the world, had a dreams that greatly disturbed him. He was so distraught by these dreams that he was unable to sleep. He declared that the “magicians, the enchanters, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans be summoned to tell the king his dreams” (Daniel 2:2). Clearly not trusting his advisors ability to divine the meaning of his dreams accurately, he decided to put them to a test. He demanded that they first tell him what the dream was, and then interpret its meaning. Naturally the advisors balked at this preposterous request, expressing that it was impossible to know what the dream was about, without being told the details. Enraged, Nebuchadnezzar “commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be destroyed” (Daniel 2:12).
We read that soldiers were sent out by the king and that “they sought Daniel and his companions, to kill them” (Daniel 2:13). It is at this point in the story that we discover that Daniel possessed an incredible knack for courageously and confidently responding in hostile situations with complete and utter faith in God. He could have been excused for running away and going into hiding until the rage of the king subsided. But that was not the character of this great man. As the story unfolds we read, “Then Daniel replied with prudence and discretion to Arioch, the captain of the king’s guard… ‘why is the decree of the king so urgent?‘” (Daniel 2:14). Daniel goes on to request an audience with the king and boldly declares that the king should “appoint a time” and that he would reveal the dream to the king.
With “prudence and discretion” and an unwavering faith, Daniel stepped boldly into a circumstance in which he was completely reliant on the power and mercy of God. Daniel was so confident in his relationships with God, and so unconcerned with his own well being, that he was willing to put it all on the line, and trust God would come through.
As the story continues, we find Daniel immediately rallied his small group of companions, his band of brothers, and beseeched them to petition God for mercy. They were all going to die if Daniel did not receive the needed revelation from God. In verse 19 we read the result of their fervent faith filled prayers. “Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision of the night.” Daniel’s prudence, discretion and faith, not only enabled God to unleash the miraculous, his actions saved countless lives.
Daniel goes on to share the revelation with Nebuchadnezzar and in response is promoted from being an advisor, to becoming the “ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief protector over all the wise men of Babylon” (Daniel 2:48).
When we chose to check our reaction in the face of challenging circumstances, we enable our responses to position us for greater things. The next time you face a hostile or difficult situation, check your reaction. Make sure you are not impulsive, but rather, like Daniel that you respond with prudence, discretion and faith… and let God handle the rest.