I know precisely two people who cast their votes yesterday for presidential candidates they genuinely respect and trust. Judging from what I hear, most everyone else—on both sides of the political fence—held their noses and voted for “the lesser of two evils.”
So what does that mean for us this morning after Election Day? The way I see it, whether you view our President-elect as a greater or a lesser evil, we’re still in a bit of a mess.
But I’m finding hope in the book of Daniel. You remember Daniel—the handsome Jewish teenager exiled in Babylon after Israel collapsed? The guy who survived an encounter with a pride of hungry lions? Well, that same Daniel lived under four incredibly pagan, incredibly powerful kings. Some were more (or less) evil than others; nevertheless, I doubt that we’d hurry to the polls to vote for any of them.
Still, evil as these kings were, Daniel not only survived, he thrived under their leadership. It wasn’t easy. He had to make tough ethical decisions. He faced prejudice and persecution. He was slandered and lied about. Several times he narrowly escaped dying for his beliefs. Nevertheless, Daniel lived to a ripe old age, serving as a top-ranking adviser in each despot’s administration. And he remained uncompromisingly faithful to God.
I expect I’ll be spending more time with Daniel in the days to come—there’s so much to learn from him. But several things especially stand out to me—things that encourage and challenge me the day after this incredible 2016 election season.
- Daniel knew who was in control. He didn’t need to do any political maneuvering—he trusted God to call the shots. God changes the political seasons. He puts kings in power. He brings them down. This conviction wasn’t mere words to Daniel—it was his deeply rooted belief. God had Babylon. And, by the way, He has America, too. Listen to Daniel’s prayer on the night of what was supposed to be his execution:
“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him” (Daniel 2:20-22).
- Daniel didn’t rant about those-wicked-people-out-there-in-the-world. Daniel recognized that trouble had come to God’s people because of their own sin. It wasn’t everybody else’s sin that had brought God’s judgment—it was Israel’s own waywardness. So when Daniel prayed, he repented for his sins and the sins of his people. He said nary a word about the sins of the evil empire in which he lived (see Daniel 9).
- Daniel prayed—a lot. In spite of his public political position, he prayed openly and without apology, three times a day (see Daniel 6:10). The text doesn’t say what he prayed about, except that he gave thanks. But, judging from the type of governments he served in and the type of man Daniel was, it’s probably fair to say that he prayed much for the kings he served and the decisions they made. He probably prayed for the welfare of all the people, and of God’s people specifically. And I expect he prayed for himself, that he would bring honor to God by what he said and did.
There’s much more we can say about Daniel. About his tactfulness of speech, his firmness of conviction, he endurance in hard seasons, his wisdom in times of crisis—but I’ll leave some treasures for you to glean. If you need a little hope for these times, please do check out Daniel. Let us know what you discover!