“If ____ can’t do it, then no one can!”
I’ve heard that phrase somewhere. The implication within the phrase that whoever goes in the blank is the deciding factor as to whether something can get done. Sometimes I really wish the blank could be filled. “If _______ can’t get the Democrat and Republican parties to look beyond their respective party for the betterment of the country, then no one can!” So, no one can.
My personal one…”If _______ can’t get me to like tomatoes and button mushrooms, then no one can.” So, no one can (Yuck!).
The same concept sort of applies to this story in Daniel. “If you won’t tell us the dream, then no one can interpret it.” Yep, no one can. That is until Daniel. Daniel is in the same theoretical danger as the magicians and wise men of the court. He doesn’t know the dream. They are all doomed.
Until Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah approached God. God answers them (after today’s verses). No (human) one can. God can.
Peter and John were not the most educated (from verses prior to today). Eloquence was neither trained nor initial gifting. They faced the learned leaders. They faced those that wanted them to fail. They faced those that had something to do with crucifying Jesus. Human eloquence and persuasion, or God’s?Through us, God often does amazing things. This is beyond the systematic amazing things (breathing, the sun, the moon, rain, etc.). Often it seems that God does things through us in such a way that it can only be God who does it. Whether people recognize it (including us) or not, those amazing things are still a testimony of God.
Sometimes it is because we yield our hearts to God. Sometimes it’s because we don’t (think Pharaoh from Exodus or the book of Judges). God still does things that only God can. Humans may claim similar things (like the Egyptian magicians in Exodus), but eventually, God wins.
Often it is human frailties and weaknesses, or the contrast to them, that truly “make” God’s glory shine. It may be through our weakness that God draws people to him. That does not, of course, mean that we can continue on our merry way without conforming to God’s will (at least as Christians). It just means that sometimes God isn’t waiting for us to reach a certain point in our transformation before God acts.
- Have you ever had an experience of the “If not then no one”? What was that like? If not, what situations can you think of where that might happen?
- We often focus on Daniel in this particular story. Why are Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah important, too? What is their role? Can you think of people in your life that are Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah who surround a Daniel?
- How does it feel to know that God will work through you, even if you are not “there” yet? What is the freeing part of that? What is the responsibility part of that?
Almighty Father, who gave your only Son to die for our sins and to rise for our justification: Give us grace so to put away the leaven of malice and wickedness, that we may always serve you in purity of life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. [Easter Friday Collect, Book of Common Prayer 2019]