When my two children were small, I sometimes shared fatherly advice with them, like this: "We have to learn to be responsible. Responsible for making our bed in the morning; responsible for keeping around room tidy, helping Mom around the house, and Dad with the chores outside. When you are grown-up," I would say, "the world will not reward you for being lazy."

My children are adults now. They have kids of their own. They are doing their best to impart their wisdom.  But here is something I have noticed:  The sage advice that I gave to my offspring did not prove true one hundred percent of the time. History has not vindicated me at every step. The view of the world represented by my counsel has been questioned sometimes by what actually happened.

I now realize that this phenomenon is widespread. Someone says, "The harder I work, the luckier I get."  Another will say, "The devil looks after his own." Both aphorisms may contain some truth, but both will not be true for one person at the same time. The fact is, everyone looks at the risk and perplexity of life and tries to deduce some principle which can always be relied upon.  People of faith try to discern God's way in the world, but God is hard to fathom. One day we think we can discern his providence at work; we believe we see meaning in events, but the next day our theory is all shot to bits. Meaning and meaninglessness are all mixed in together.

The prophet Daniel tells us something he never learned just by watching events closely. History did not provide for him the material for his faith. He looked instead beyond the contradicting signals of the world scene to God--and found in him a place to stand.  The changing and unpredictable circumstances of Daniel's life did not suggest to him a clue to unlock the existential puzzle.  The answer came not in a formula, but in a person: The Most High God.  The oft-bewildering path he trod was not the outworking of iron law, but the providence of all-wise, loving decision.

"The Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes" (Daniel 4:32).

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