“Now among them from the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. Then the commander of the officials assigned new names to them; and to Daniel he assigned the name Belteshazzar, to Hananiah Shadrach, to Mishael Meshach, and to Azariah Abed-nego” (Daniel 1:6-7).
You can’t always prevent personal loss, but you can respond to it in ways that glorify God.
It was a quiet January morning in the San Fernando Valley of Southern California until suddenly and without warning the earth shook with such a violent force that many department stores, apartment houses, homes, and freeway overpasses crumbled under the strain. Within minutes the 1994 Northridge earthquake left scars upon lives and land that in some cases may never heal. Such catastrophic events remind us of just how difficult dealing with personal loss can be.
Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah understood personal loss. Perhaps in our day only those who have suffered as prisoners of war or as refugees from war’s ravages can fully appreciate the deep sense of loss those men must have felt after being cut off from family, friends, and homeland.
Their loss included even their own names. When taken captive, each of them had a Hebrew name that reflected his godly upbringing. But in an apparent effort to remove that influence and to exalt the pagan deities of Bel (or Baal) and Aku, Nebuchadnezzar’s commander changed their names from Daniel (which means “God is judge”) to Belteshazzar (“Bel provides” or “Bel’s prince”), from Hananiah (“the Lord is gracious”) to Shadrach (“under the command of Aku”), from Mishael (“Who is what the Lord is?”) to Meshach (“Who is what Aku is?”), and from Azariah (“the Lord is my helper”) to Abed-nego (“the servant of Nebo [the son of Baal]”).
Daniel and his friends couldn’t prevent their losses, but they could trust God and refuse to let those losses lead to despair or compromise. That’s an example you can follow when you face loss.
Suggestions for Prayer
- Ask the Lord for the wisdom to see your losses through His loving eyes, and for the grace to respond appropriately.
- Pray for those whom you know who have suffered loss recently.
For Further Study
Read Job 1:13-22.
- How did Job respond to his losses?
- What can you learn from his example?
From Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright © 1997.