Daniel and his Friends
How do we develop the enduring kind of patience? Our lesson quotes James 1: 2 – 4 to give us the answer,
"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing" (James 1:2–4, NKJV).
The word patience here is from the Greek hupomone, which means endurance, steadfastness, and courage of every affliction that one confronts on one's spiritual journey. The word Paul uses in Galatians 5:22 is macrothumia – translated as longsuffering - which essentially means "long tempered" as opposed to short-tempered.
Although hupomone is not part of the fruit of the Spirit, it is nevertheless essential in our walk of Faith. According to James, it is through trials that we develop the endurance to overcome unbelief continually and remain faithful to God. Our lesson states about this,
'The Greek word for "trials," sometimes translated "temptations," is the word peirazo, which has the broader significance of "proving" or "testing." The devil tries us or tempts us to do evil. The tests and trials that God allows to come into our lives are to develop our characters.' Ellen G. White talks about this,
"The trials of life are God's workmen, to remove the impurities and roughness from our character. Their hewing, squaring, and chiseling, their burnishing and polishing, is a painful process; it is hard to be pressed down to the grinding wheel. But the stone is brought forth prepared to fill its place in the heavenly temple. Upon no useless material does the Master bestow such careful, thorough work. Only His precious stones are polished after the similitude of a palace."—Ellen G. White, Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 10.
The previous quite doesn't mean, however, that every trial is in God's providence. Often we bring suffering upon ourselves through disobedience; often, too, trials and suffering are just the results of what it means to live in a fallen, sinful world where we have an enemy who hates us (1 Pet. 5:8). What this does mean, however, is that through a complete surrender of ourselves to the Lord, to grasping hold of Him in faith and obedience, no matter what we go through, we can come out better or more refined if we allow God to work in us. No one said it would be fun. Life here often isn't fun, but God gives us this wonderful promise: "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:6).
One good example of how trials help develop endurance is Daniel and his friends. It was through trials that they develop the enduring patience that gave them the victory. Now, when we think of Daniel and his friends going through trials, we probably immediately think of the fiery furnace and the Lion's den. And, these were moments in their respective lives when their faith was tested, and they were victorious by the grace of God. But, this trial was not there first one. The first trial was actually while still in Jerusalem. In Jeremiah 38: 17 – 21, Jeremiah tells the King of Judah to surrender to the King of Babylon and "it shall be well unto thee, and thy soul shall live" (Jeremiah 38: 20). Those who did as God asked to surrender to the Babylonian King, it went well with them. Those that did not were either injured or killed. Daniel and his friends surrendered to the King of Babylon.
You could argue that Isaiah prophesied the second trial. Isiah states that this happened after Hezekiah failed to give God glory for his miraculous healing, and instead took the glory for himself and showed the Babylonians all that was in the house. Isaiah predicted in 2 King 20:17 – 18,
2Ki20:17 Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store unto this day, shall be carried into Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the LORD.
2Ki20:18 And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the King of Babylon.
Put bluntly, Daniel and his friends were castrated. Daniel then narrates how he and his friends refused to eat out the King's table. The foods were luscious and sacrificed to idols. They did not want their appetite to lead them astray. Reluctantly, the prince of the eunuchs agrees to make a deal give them a ten-day trial.
Our lesson states that, "God honors the loyalty of the four Hebrew captives, and at the end of their ten-day testing period they look healthier and better nourished than the other students who have eaten from the royal table. So, God gives His four servants "knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom," and to Daniel alone, God gives "understanding in all visions and dreams" (Dan. 1:17, NKJV). "
Furthermore, After three years of training in the "Babylonian University," the four Hebrews are brought before the King for the final examination. They are not only healthier than the other students, they surpass them in knowledge and wisdom. The King immediately hires The four.
Ellen White states,
"Daniel and his companions in Babylon were, in their youth, apparently more favored of fortune than was Joseph in the earlier years of his life in Egypt; yet they were subjected to tests of character scarcely less severe. From the comparative simplicity of their Judean home these youth of royal line were transported to the most magnificent of cities, to the court of its greatest monarch, and were singled out to be trained for the king's special service. Strong were the temptations surrounding them in that corrupt and luxurious court. The fact that they, the worshipers of Jehovah, were captives to Babylon; that the vessels of God's house had been placed in the temple of the gods of Babylon; that the king of Israel was himself a prisoner in the hands of the Babylonians, was boastfully cited by the victors as evidence that their religion and customs were superior to the religion and customs of the Hebrews. Under such circumstances, through the very humiliations that Israel's departure from His commandments had invited, God gave to Babylon evidence of His supremacy, of the holiness of His requirements, and of the sure result of obedience. And this testimony He gave, as alone it could be given, through those who still held fast their loyalty". — Ellen G. White, Education, p. 54.