Innocent bystanders often get hurt by the mistakes and poor decisions of others. Disasters happen that haunt us for life even though we have no direct responsibility for the events that take place. Often the best way to handle these things is to accept them and to make the best of the situation.
Daniel and his friends were innocent bystanders. They suffered a lifelong exile to Babylon because of their country’s prolonged disobedience to God. But they didn’t let their misfortune destroy their relationship with God. With courage and faith, they faced the realities of exile and lived successful lives. Their lives offer us insight into how to deal with tragedy.
After being taken from Jerusalem to Babylon, Daniel and his three friends were trained for service in the Babylonian government. Their captors often demanded that they do things that stood in opposition to God. To protect their relationship with God, Daniel and his friends set clear boundaries for their behavior. They followed God’s plan for their lives, despite its conflict with the command of their captors. And God protected these faithful men from the foreign laws and unstable tyrants they lived under.
Although Daniel and his friends were exiled to Babylon for the sins of their ancestors, they didn’t use that as an excuse for continued failure. Instead, they trusted God to redeem their lives, and they were determined to live according to God’s precepts and teachings. You can do the same.
A life that’s been set free from sin is a beautiful sight. When you turn from your sin and live a life more in tune with God, you testify to the glory of God and give others hope that he can change their lives. You know that the suffering, affliction, and brokenness come from going and doing things your own way. You know what its like to be enslaved to your passions. Yet you should also know there is more to life than bondage’more to life than alcohol or pornography ‘more to life than envy and jealousy’more to life than work or football. There is healing and freedom. There is beauty and joy. There is love, forgiveness, and mercy.
And you have the wonderful privilege of proclaiming this Good News to those around you, both in your vocal testimony and in the testimony of your life. I love the saying: Go out and preach Jesus to all you meet, and when necessary, use words.
When you surrender your life to Jesus, he’ll put you on a path of new life. Your salvation is assured, and now you will live a life of gratitude. You’ll change from the inside out because God got a hold of you. Others will notice, and God will be given the honor and glory.
Simon the fisherman was reckless, vacillating, and often thoughtless. He friends could probably think of some apt nicknames for him, but I doubt any of them came close to what Jesus called him: Peter, which means ‘Rock.’ What greater evidence could there be that Jesus accepted Simon as he was but also had a vision for the man he’d become? And what an amazing transformation took place in that burly fisherman!
Most men can readily identify with Simon Peter. His intentions were usually good, but he was impetuous in speech and impulsive in action. When Jesus revealed that his divine mission would involve a painful death, Peter rashly told Jesus to stop talking that way. At the last supper he brazenly objected to Jesus washing his feet. When Jesus was arrested he cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant. And we all know how he denied knowing Jesus three times.
Later in Simon Peter’s life, however, we see what Jesus saw when he called him ‘Rock.’ He was used by God to perform miracles, he preached publicly about Jesus despite opposition, and exhibited strong leadership in the early church.
In Simon Peter’s life we see hope for our spiritual renewal and transformation. He wasn’t perfect, but he grew in his life in Christ and God used him to have a profound effect on the world.
Jesus has the power to transform even the most unlikely people. Keep this in mind for yourself and for others.