Daniel: Tips to Thrive in Transition
How can transition be a sign that the Lord is preparing you for greater work in the future?
In a new place, Daniel did not just survive—he thrived! Isn’t that our desire for seasons of transition? This week, the story of Daniel gives us tips for navigating a successful transition, from taking care of our health to making prayer a priority. May you stand firm in every transition and proclaim that the God who delivered, rescued, and saved Daniel is the same God who will help you!
About This Journey
Much can happen during transition, and in the journey between change and acceptance, we can get stuck in the struggle to want everything settled—now! Taking the time to see God in the midst of the transition is important. Recognizing He is setting the pace, even when you cannot see Him, is the best reassurance.
This Week's Readings
Daniel – Tips for a Successful Transition
Then the king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family and of the nobility, youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king’s palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. The king assigned them a daily portion of the food that the king ate, and of the wine that he drank. They were to be educated for three years, and at the end of that time they were to stand before the king. Among these were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah of the tribe of Judah. And the chief of the eunuchs gave them names: Daniel he called Belteshazzar, Hananiah he called Shadrach, Mishael he called Meshach, and Azariah he called Abednego.
But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself.-Daniel 1:3-8
A “greybeard” is not a pirate or Native American chief, but a former military leader sought out by the current leaders for advice. Greybeards cannot make decisions or assume responsibility for the current leaders, but they can share tips and advice from lessons learned when they called the shots.
When it comes to advice on how to thrive in transition, one of the best greybeards in Scripture is Daniel. Caught up in a forced transition from freedom in Judah to captivity in Babylon, he became a servant in a foreign king’s palace. Daniel’s journey yields valuable tips for success in transition by observing what he did, not only to survive, but also to thrive.
Transitions that involve a change in venue will bring new people and new methods. Every new situation is accompanied by adjustment to the “new.” Encountering new cultural norms, institutional standards, community traditions, or the personal habits of new neighbors, coworkers, or friends can be disconcerting.
Daniel found himself immersed in a completely new society where the language, people, customs, and religion were all different from his own. Yet, in the midst of all that was new, he determined to maintain the personal values instilled from a child. His new situation required him to study and learn about the local pagan religion. His captors even gave him a different name that referred to a foreign god. Through all of these challenges, Daniel did not waver in what and in whom he believed.
Daniel’s choice not to defile himself with the king’s food or wine illustrates his determination to stay strong in his values and beliefs. The word defile indicates Daniel’s choice was an issue of religious faithfulness. His actions were not those of a man out to prove something. Scripture implies (Daniel 1:10–14) that he did not make a public protest or start a culture war by his refusal to eat the king’s food. His choice indicated his absolute loyalty to God. His attitude was that of determination and resolution. He learned about the culture, but he did not accept the flattery of the king or dependence on the king, as his acceptance of the king’s food would have communicated.
God blessed Daniel through what had to be a challenging transition. Daniel 1:9 reports that God allowed Daniel to gain favor and compassion from those who were responsible for him. You may not be able to change the standards of a venue to fall in line with God’s principles, but you can resolve to hold to those values you believe are pleasing to the Lord.
Sister, may we stand firm in every transition and proclaim, “I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me” (2 Timothy 1:12b).
What situations have challenged your values since you became a military wife? How have times of transition tested the resolve of your values and standards?
Lord, help me stand in godly determination against those things that would harm my relationship with you. Give me wisdom and godly insight as I walk through this day. Amen.
Transition is a Team Sport
As for these four youths, God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. At the end of the time, when the king had commanded that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. And the king spoke with them, and among all of them none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Therefore they stood before the king.-Daniel 1:17-18
Then Daniel went to his house and made the matter known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions, and told them to seek mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that Daniel and his companions might not be destroyed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.-Daniel 2:17-18
Then the king gave Daniel high honors and many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon. Daniel made a request of the king, and he appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego over the affairs of the province of Babylon. But Daniel remained at the king’s court.-Daniel 2:48-49
In the transition from freedom at home in Judah to forced captivity in Babylon, Daniel stood out as a leader among his peers. However, he did not go through this adjustment on his own. His teammates were Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. In the first two chapters of Daniel, we see his team studying together in the School of Babylon. The pagan teachers recognized this Hebrew team for their superior aptitude (1:19). They took a dietary oath together and the team was healthier than any of their peers (1:15). When faced with their first life-and-death challenge in their new positions, they prayed together as a team and God answered their request (2:17–19). When the king rewarded Daniel for revealing the meaning of a dream, Daniel convinced the king to reward the other members of his team as well (2:49). No doubt, Daniel would list good teamwork as a priority for successful transition.
To state that teamwork is important to the military is like saying fuel is important to a car. From a two-person buddy team watching each other’s back to the Air Force providing close air support for the Army, the military knows it must function as a team to be successful.
What is in every fiber of military functionality is sometimes strangely missing in the life of some military spouses. Military spouse Shelley Kimball admitted, “As a military spouse, I was making everything so much harder by insisting to myself that I go it alone. I refused help. A lot. Even in desperate times. I thought it was a personal failing, a weakness, to be willing to accept help. I was so wrong. So very wrong.”
Transition can go much smoother if you tackle it with a team. Your home team of husband and possibly children will face many major life transitions together. Like Daniel and his team, you can best support each other if everyone signs on to the same shared values to guide your decisions. As Daniel made sure the king not only rewarded him, but also his team, every member of your family needs to know you consider their feelings and aspirations.
In addition to your home team, may I suggest you pull together a prayer team of people not bound by location and distance to back you up? Daniel already had his prayer team in place when a crisis arose. Any time is a good time to build a team to support each other in prayer, but having that team in place before you are in crisis mode is comforting.
Sister, don’t go it alone. Teamwork can make the hard work of transition easier!
How can you relate to the statement from military spouse Shelley about “going it alone”? How has going through transition with the support and help of others made a difference in your times of transition?
Lord, thank you for those you have sent my way to ease the challenges of transition. Bless them and use us to encourage one another in this journey called life. Amen.
The Bod Pod
“Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king’s food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see.” So he listened to them in this matter, and tested them for ten days. At the end of ten days it was seen that they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than all the youths who ate the king’s food. So the steward took away their food and the wine they were to drink, and gave them vegetables.-Daniel 1:12-16
During a year of advanced military training for which my husband was selected, the health and fitness department offered a deal a spouse could not refuse. In an effort to promote family fitness, the department invited spouses to experience the “Bod Pod.” This sophisticated contraption is the gold standard for body composition assessment. I determined this would be my year to get in shape, and the Bod Pod was my first step toward that fitness goal. I threw any claustrophobic tendency out the window as I sat in the futuristic-looking egg-shaped chamber. The Bod Pod would measure my fat and lean muscle mass—what did I have to lose? (no pun intended). The bottom line—again, no pun intended—was that I needed some help when it came to fitness. For weeks afterward when I spotted a fellow spouse with a sad countenance, I only had to ask, “Bod Pod?” and she would nod forlornly. To their credit, the department worked with us to develop an exercise program and offered suggestions in dietary changes.
Daniel did not change his diet for physical reasons, but for religious convictions. However, the change he made concerning food resulted in prime physical health that was evident to his captors. The step of self-discipline Daniel took was an act of devotion that met with God’s approval and blessing. Daniel’s choice of food is not included in Scripture for the purpose of following his diet, but for the purpose of seeing God’s hand at work in his life. God strengthened him—body, soul, and spirit—to remain faithful even in captivity.
Our bodies matter to God. Caring for them with proper nutrition, exercise, and rest allows us to return our bodies in service to him. Paul exhorts us to “present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1). One way we worship God is to seek to be a good steward of the body he has given.
In times of transition, it takes discipline not to live off fast food. (I’m fond of McD’s chicken wrap with a side of fries.) Being good stewards of health is pleasing to the Lord and a positive example to others. Having cut and chiseled abs is not a biblical requirement. Scripture does not equate physical perfection with godliness. However, as in the case of Daniel, good health can be a testimony of your good choices and God’s good care.
How do you integrate exercise into your daily life? What ways have you found to maintain healthy standards of eating and exercise during transitions?
Lord, help me steward the body you have given me. Show me areas to work on so I may serve you in good health. Amen.
Open the Thanksgiving Window
Daniel answered and said:
“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,
to whom belong wisdom and might.
He changes times and seasons;
he removes kings and sets up kings;
he gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to those who have understanding;
he reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what is in the darkness,
and the light dwells with him.
To you, O God of my fathers,
I give thanks and praise,
for you have given me wisdom and might,
and have now made known to me what we asked of you,
for you have made known to us the king’s matter.”
In the midst of the greatest transition ever undertaken by the United States, General George Washington issued a General Order on November 30, 1777 stating in part:
For as much as it is the indispensable duty of all men, to adore the superintending providence of Almighty God; to acknowledge with gratitude their obligations to him for benefits received, and to implore such further blessings as they stand in need of; and if having pleased him in his abundant mercy, not only to continue to us the innumerable bounties of his common providence, but also, to smile upon us in the prosecution of a just and necessary war, for the defense of our unalienable rights and liberties.
It is therefore recommended by Congress, that Thursday the 18th Day of December next be set apart for Solemn Thanksgiving and Praise; that at that time, and with one voice, the good people may express the grateful feelings of their hearts …
During a time of war, with all the hardships that it brings, one may wonder why General Washington and Congress would exhort the people of our struggling nation to have grateful feelings in their hearts and express their gratitude to God.
We could pose the same question concerning Daniel, a captive serving in a foreign land separated from family and friends. The United States gave thanks in the middle of the Revolutionary War because they believed God was helping them and would continue to do so. Daniel believed the same. He gave thanks in a time when his life was on the line—interpret the king’s dream or die. He gave thanks to God for giving him a revelation of the dream. God’s answer to Daniel’s prayer showed his personal involvement in Daniel’s life. Daniel spontaneously sang a hymn of thanksgiving to God for making wisdom available in his time of need.
In Girl Meets Change, former military wife Kristen Strong describes the role of thanksgiving in the midst of transition: “When change wipes all the natural light from the rooms of my heart, being thankful is the way to usher it back in.… We understand that when change plants us in a windowless room, gratitude gives us a window to welcome the light …”
Praise and thanksgiving is our acknowledgement of God’s help and presence. God entered Daniel’s situation and brought the light of his power and wisdom. Sister, his wisdom is available to you; his greatness is yours to experience! Hallelujah!
How can thanksgiving help you thrive in transition? Write your own proclamation of thanksgiving and share it with your family.
“I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, Most High” (Psalm 7:17). Amen.
Prayer to the Rescue
When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.-Daniel 6:10
In the military context, what is the common component of the following: a basic training graduation, an ethnic celebration event, the opening of a new commissary, a change of command, and a retirement ceremony? If you said prayer, you are right. Isn’t it noteworthy that at a time when prayer is prohibited in many public places, the military includes prayer in every special event you can imagine? A casual observer might conclude that prayer is a priority in the military. But you cannot deny that prayer was a priority for Daniel.
Most people have heard of Daniel in the lions’ den. If you think Daniel prayed a powerful prayer for protection while staring into the snarling teeth of hungry lions, you might be right—but the Scriptures do not mention Daniel praying there. In fact, praying is what got him thrown into the den! Before you decide to avoid prayer as life-threatening, let’s look at the story.
Everyone in the kingdom knew that Daniel had a practice of praying three times a day. The officials who were jealous of Daniel tricked the king into signing an irrevocable decree that for thirty days no one could make a petition to any god or man other than the king. Punishment for breaking the decree would mean keeping company with large felines.
Knowing the king had signed the devious decree did not stop Daniel from keeping his appointment with God. He went to his private upper room to pray as he always did. As with his choice of food, he was not making a defiant public spectacle—he was expressing his faith. The phrase he got down on his knees lets us know this was a private act, as standing was the common public position of prayer. Daniel’s disobedience of the decree was not so much a demonstration of his personal rights as much as a daily practice of personal renewal in the presence of God.
Daniel’s advice to us all would be to make prayer a priority. When you settle into a calm routine of life, prayer will refresh your spirit. When you move through the uncertainty of transition, prayer will rescue your soul.
The prophet Jeremiah wrote a letter to the exiles in captivity during the time Daniel lived. Daniel’s commitment to prayer followed his admonition. We too can benefit from living by the words of Jeremiah: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart, I will be found by you, declares the LORD …” (Jeremiah 29:11–14).
In what way does Daniel’s response to the king’s decree inspire you? How did prayer help Daniel through transition? How has personal prayer helped you through transition?
Lord, you are near to all who call on you, to all who call on you in truth. You fulfill the desire of those who fear you; you hear our cry and save us. Amen. (See Psalm 145:18–19.)
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