Thought for the Day by Hannah Lievesley (St Chad’s)
No-one wants a power-crazed irrational despot leading their nation – but a power-crazed, irrational despot who can’t get a good night’s sleep must be even worse.
No, I’m not talking about the US election campaign, not yet anyway, (though I completely understand why you went there). I’m talking about King Nebuchadnezzar in today’s bible reading from the book of Daniel.
The King is plagued by troubling dreams. When he wakes up, he can’t remember what they were never mind fathom what they might mean, so he calls on his expert advisers to tell him. It’s a ridiculous ask. The terrified astrologers and sorcerers plead, ‘there’s not a man on earth who can do as the king asks…only the gods can reveal such a thing’. The king sentences them to a gruesome death nevertheless.
Daniel took a risk. He went to the King and claimed he would answer what the dream was and what it meant. He just needed some time. Then he goes to rally his friends to pray fervently to God for an answer to the mystery. To cut a short story even shorter: God provides; the astrologers and sorcerers are saved; and Nebuchadnezzar gains a new respect for this ‘God of Israel’, and for Daniel and his friends.
I salute Daniel’s courage. I wouldn’t want to be in the position of advising the infamous King of Babylon nor, to be honest, to be tasked with advising the leaders of the nations today. In the early hours of Monday morning, at a late election rally in Florida, President Trump threatened to fire Anthony Fauci, America’s top infectious disease expert. “Don’t tell anybody,” he told the chanting crowds, “but let me wait until a little bit after the election.” Fauci continues to offer frank public health guidance in the face of Trump’s denials of the severity of the Covid-19 pandemic. Who would choose a job like that?
Thankfully, we’ll probably never be put in such a precarious position ourselves, but we can make a difference by praying for those who are. Daniel knew the necessity and power of prayer, and his three friends were faithful in praying for him. Let’s be faithful in praying for those who are tasked with the precarious job of advising the nation’s leaders today, both at home and abroad.