The Old Testament prophet Daniel had been alarmed at King Nebuchadnezzar’s troubling dream about the big tree being chopped down leaving just a stump (Daniel 4) and after interpreting it had urged Nebuchadnezzar to repent. However, Daniel’s bold and loving plea fell on deaf ears. 12 months passed before Daniel witnessed what he dreaded – the sad and utter humbling of the great and powerful King Nebuchadnezzar. At least a thousand prayers were most likely offered by Daniel before judgment day arrived. How many involved begging God earnestly for the proud king’s repentance? Did this man of God ever urge the king again directly? Or did he have to hold himself back from constantly imploring the king to repent? When the severe judgment finally occurred, how did Daniel’s heart bear up? When the years of insanity dragged on for the proud king, how did it affect Daniel?
Watching someone you deeply love ruin their life is heartbreaking.
Years ago I tried stopping a person on the path of destruction by literally getting in their face and YELLING at them that they needed to be saved. Needless to say, that approach didn’t work. However, even now that I have changed my tone, I have to accept I still can’t change a person’s heart no matter what approach I use.
We speak the truth in love. We warn. We pray. But, then we must do as Daniel did. We watch.
What a tremendous relief it must have been for Daniel’s spirit when the king finally relinquished his pride and honored God. Perhaps our own wait will have an equally satisfying result. Keep praying. Keep waiting. God is merciful. God is patient. Though we can’t change a heart, He still can. In His time.
But repentance is not a guarantee no matter how long we wait or how much we pray. If God chooses to permit a person to follow their heart all the way to the bitter end, our faith in God must not be shaken. We must endure. Press on. Not quit. Others will fall out of the race. We run on. Others will give up. We run on. Those nearest and dearest to us might bow out of the race, but we keep on keeping on.
This post feels heavy to me. As if I’ve tried to encourage and yet fallen far short of the mark. And it hits incredibly close to home as I’m sure it does for many of you. The reality is people make choices which are out of our control and literally break our hearts. But endure. Don’t give up. Trust God. Know He is good. Know your refuge is always Him. Eyes up. Hope in Him. Keep running the race.
And perhaps one day in the future (maybe eight years or even more) the person presently causing so much grief will humbly join Nebuchadnezzar in saying: “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are true and His ways just, and He is able to humble those who walk in pride.” (Daniel 4:37)