With all of the evil that happens in the world daily, it's important to not give into fear or the darkness but to stand firm in Gods light, love, protection, forgiveness and grace. A good way to do this, to renew our strength and bravery, is by reading the book of Daniel. Given the timing of tragic events close to home, skipping ahead  in the bible to focus on this subject matter is needed.  Daniel's life is a picture of the triumph of faith. 

            In 605 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar became king of Babylon. That year he surrounded Jerusalem and made Judah his state. He took Jerusalems wisest men and most beautiful women to Babylon as captives. Of those captives was Daniel/Belteshazzar, Hanniah/Shadrach, Mishael/Meshach and Azariah/Abednego. Their names were changed after they were taken captive to make them fit in with their new Babylonian culture. 

            Nebuchadnezzar was a feared king by the world, and was always victorious. After he would conquer a country he would take the best of their best and have them train for 3 years to potentially serve him if they did well enough after their training. He gave all of his captives daily rations of food and wine. However, Daniel and his friends chose not to eat the food or wine. Either because the food possibly wasn't clean (pork) or because they didnt want to depend on a king who served false gods for their livelihood. Either way, for whatever exact reason to honor God, they refused their rations. 

            It was customary to execute anyone who disobeyed the king, but God Intervened and sent the chief eunuch to address this matter. The eunuch feared that if the king saw the boys looking famished they would be executed and the eunuch would be in trouble as well. 

            Daniel came up with a good solution for all, he suggested that the boys only eat vegetables and drink water for 10 days, and if they look healthy then they can continue with that diet plan and not the king's. After 10 days the eunuch looked the boys over and was pleased, they looked healthier and plumper than the others eating the king's rations. God was pleased that they stood up for their beliefs and Gods word, so He sustained their body's for them so they wouldn't have to eat the kings rations and wine. God also blessed them with a knowledge and understanding of literature. And Daniel was blessed with the understanding of visions and dreams. 

            From this we can learn a few things. First, no matter what everyone else is doing, do what makes God happy and what is in order with His word. If obeying His word puts you in a situation that could arise strife, He will deliver you. It's not always easy to follow His word, but it's what we were designed to do, if you want it, it is possible. 

            To the outsider looking in, sometimes things that nonbelievers do may appear better, but it's not. For example it may have seemed better to eat the kings rations,  it was more food and wine. But if it was pork and ruled unclean, it could have made the men sick from it not being acquired cleanly. Drinking wine may seem fun, but if you overindulge it can cause you to make bad choices and even cause headaches and nausea. 

            For example,  in today's culture it seems more common to lay with someone whom your not married too rather than to wait till marriage, but what can result from that is not always good (STDs, heartbreak, adultry). To avoid what is socially "normal" to stay in line with Gods word is always what's best for us. Daniel knew where his line was, what he was ok with and what he wasn't ok with. We need to know where our line is before we are put in a situation to be tempted so we can firmly rise above it and stay in line with Gods word. 

            Daniel was put in a position to where he could have easily gave up, became depressed or filled with anger and question and dwell as to why this was happening to him. But instead, he chose to focus on God and his loyalty and faithfulness to God rather then dwell on the troubles he was in. It's easier to lose hope and question when things go wrong, when accidents or attacks happen. There is so much that is not meant for us to know yet. But what we do know is God is faithful, He keeps his promises, and if we choose to focus in that we will be delivered and have peace while enduring the rough time. God does not force anything on anyone, He gives free will which can explain why evil things sometimes happen in the world,  people taking their freewill and choosing to serve evil. But God is honest and will follow through with His word, and that's what we should focus on like Daniel did. 

            Daniel was put in a new culture and persevered,  with Gods help. From this we can learn what to do when we are put in a new situation or environment. We can learn about it more, embrace the culture while still focusing on God. Dont consume yourself with the new surroundings,  engage in it while keeping your eye on God. Keep a positive attitude and rely on God to pull your through it. God blessed these boys with knowledge and at the end of their training the king found that they were ten times better than the magicians and astrologers that he had serving him. The king chose the boys to serve him up close, in a position of higher power than what they were in. The knowledge and talent God blessed them with could not be ignored.