Inspired by Daniel 2:1-23
“Then Daniel went to his home and informed his companions, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, and told them to seek mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that Daniel and his companions with the rest of the wise men of Babylon might not perish. Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision of the night, and Daniel blessed the God of heaven.” Daniel 2:17-19 (NRSV)
The ways in which God is merciful are many and inexplicable. Daniel and his companions were in Babylon as the spoils of war. Their land had been conquered, and they had been conscripted into service in the Babylonian king’s court, being found to have more knowledge and wisdom than the Babylonian magicians and enchanters. They didn’t want to be there, and they had no loyalty to this king, this kingdom, or those in it. They were Judah’s conquerors and oppressors.
Yet when the king was plagued by troubling dreams that the Babylonian wise men could not discern, Daniel prayed for mercy from God. Yes he would have been executed along with the Babylonian wise men, but those who are ruled by hate and vengeance would gladly give their own lives if it meant that many of their oppressors would die along with them, and the conquering king would continue to suffer. But Daniel was merciful to the king and the king’s wise men, and prayed for God’s mercy on them, which allowed God to show his mercy to those who might never have had a chance to experience it.
Sometimes when it seems as though all is against us and there is no hope for a better future, God will give us a chance to be merciful to those who do not deserve our mercy, to be loving to those who do not deserve our love, and thus overcome the seemingly impenetrable darkness with a blinding beam of God’s holy light.
Let us pray. Merciful God, you take pity on us in our lowly state. Help us to show mercy to others, that all may come to know your grace. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.