Have you ever felt like a prisoner to your job, family situation, or circumstances? Today, Pastor Steve Goble leads us on a journey through the book of Daniel and the movie The Pursuit of Happyness to teach us about God’s character and His perspective on these times in our lives.
1. In our journey, we need to identify the things to which we are enslaved. Daniel 1:1-7
What has a hold on you right now? Maybe a job, a relationship, an illness, or another hardship has enveloped you, making you uncomfortable or unhappy.
As the Book of Daniel opens, Babylon has attacked Jerusalem and taken control. At this time, Daniel is a young man who becomes subject to King Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel is trapped in service to a king who does not know or fear his God. He is expected to follow the statutes and commands of this new king, which will likely be in conflict with his own beliefs.
The Pursuit of Happyness is the true story of Chris Gardner. Having grown up in a fatherless home, Chris will stop at nothing to have a vital role in his son’s life. He is trapped financially, having invested all his family’s resources in a product that he is unable to sell, creating complex hardships for his family.
2. We can’t compare our journey to other people’s journey. Daniel 1:9-21
In Daniel 1:8-21, Daniel and his friends have been apportioned delicacies of the king that he is expected to eat,
But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. Daniel 1:8
God honors this commitment and lift Daniel up in the eyes of the king.
And in all matters of wisdom and understanding about which the king examined them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers who were in all his realm. Thus Daniel continued until the first year of King Cyrus. Daniel 1:20-21
Daniel and his companions do something that no other youths in their position are doing: they choose to stand up for their faith and do what they know to be right. For them, this means passing up the delicacies that probably seem better to them in order to partake of that which God has allocated to them, as a measure of faithfulness and trust in their God.
In the movie, Chris meets a stock broker who seems to have everything he wants. Everyone doing the job seems happy in a way he has never been. All he wants is to be like them.
Many times, we get caught up in looking at other people. This happens with possessions and power, but also with our relationships with Christ. Maybe it seems that someone you admire has it all together, has a stronger relationship with God, better ministry successes, etc. In these moments, we must avert our eyes from the appearance of what others have and keep our gaze focused on God, as He has a special design for each of us and has our best interest in mind. We need to relish in what we have with Him and trust that it is best, rather than wishing we had what others have.
3. In spite of our circumstances, God can accomplish His will. Daniel 6:4-11
In Daniel 6, the governors and satraps seeking to harm Daniel plot to entrap him with a law against prayer and worship. But instead of bowing to a law that conflicts with God’s commands, Daniel trusts that his God is bigger than any man-made law and continues to worship.
Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days. Daniel 6:10
Chris Gardner finally has the opportunity to intern in the finance industry. However, just before his interview, he is arrested for unpaid parking tickets. Against all odds, he runs from jail to the interview, out of breath and inappropriately dressed…yet he lands the internship anyway!
We can’t let our current circumstances deter us from what God has called us to do. Don’t be afraid to push forward with confidence. No matter how we feel in our current circumstances, we must remember that God is bigger than all we can see, and He is trustworthy.
4. Our view of the ending is God’s view of the beginning. Daniel 6:16-17, Romans 8:35
In Daniel 6, the king is trapped by a decree sealed by his own hand and must cast Daniel into the lion’s den for worshiping his God. Can you imagine the intense fear Daniel must have felt, knowing he was about to be thrown to his death?
Chris Gardner similarly feared an ultimate uncertainty. You may be able to identify with this fear-ridden “non-Disney” ending, where Chris can’t see a way out, and everything in his life seems to have gone from bad to worse.
If you find yourself in that place, relieve your doubt. God is not done yet! He had a plan for Daniel, rescuing him from the lion’s den, and He has a plan for your life as well.
No matter what you are going through, you have the answers in Christ.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. Romans 8:35-37
No matter what you are going through, you have the answers in Christ. Embrace and surrender to God’s plan and allow Him to do His will!