For the Students: Lessons from Daniel

I can’t take full credit for this devotion but it is partially something I heard at Church a while ago and have expanded on.

A new Uni term is upon us;  a new student loan (thank you government) , for some a new timetable and hopefully for all of us, a new and refreshed attitude towards learning (new year, new us right?) . There’s a lesson we can learn from the Bible to prepare us for a new degree or period of education.

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Meet Daniel, essentially a student – he and his Hebrew friends were taken into Babylonian captivity to be educated in the Chaldean ways for three years. Sound familiar? Like most of us, although not by choice, Daniel dedicated three years of his life to studying. He was a student.

Daniel had all of the UCAS application qualities, “gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand,” (Daniel 1:4) He was even handsome “in whom there was no blemish, but good-looking.” Brains and beauty; he was an ideal student even before his course which is why he was chosen to undertake the training to work in the King’s palace.

Daniel’s training included food and drink (don’t you wish your degree did?) from the King. “And the king appointed for them a daily provision of the king’s delicacies and of the wine which he drank, and three years of training for them, so that at the end of that time they might serve before the king.” (Verse 5)

However, the food the King served was not that which Daniel had been brought up to eat. It was food that God had spoken against.

Daniel’s Dilema

Daniel was already in a tough situation; he had basically been kidnapped from his home and forced to undertake training.He didn’t excitedly fill out an application, await for his acceptance emails and then hunt in Wilkinsons for a new duvet and kitchen set like we did, he was taken by force and made to do a course that he did not want to do.

Lesson 1: We may not like our course, we may have even been put there by force (family influences or even through clearing) but by God’s grace we can give it 100% and be successful. 

“Among the viands placed before the king were swine’s flesh and other meats which were declared unclean by the law of Moses, and which the Hebrews had been expressly forbidden to eat. Here Daniel was brought to a severe test. Should he adhere to the teachings of his fathers concerning meats and drinks, and offend the king, and probably lose not only his position but his life? or should he disregard the commandment of the Lord, and retain the favor of the king, thus securing great intellectual advantages and the most flattering worldly prospects?” (Ellen White, The Sanctified Life) 

I’m sure it was tasty food and I’m sure it looked good. It must have been hard for Daniel to say no; students, imagine rejecting an unlimited supply of delcious home cooked food and saying ‘Nah I’ll go on a fruit fast instead.’ It wasn’t an easy decision but Daniel knew that it was a Godly decision. 

Why was food such a big deal?

Daniel understood the connection between health and performance. He wanted to give the course his full concentration and succeed but he did not think he could do this on the King’s diet. He could have taken the easy route, eat the King’s food and then pray about it and hope God understood – after all, he didn’t ask to be put in this situation, but Daniel decided that it was too much of a big deal to compromise on. So he refused the food given to him ands requested that he would be able to go on a ten day trial of only  water and vegetables to prove that he could be just as wise and strong without the King’s diet. After ten days, Daniel (and his 3 friends) looked great; they were even better looking than the other men who had eaten the food that the King provided. And, “God gave them knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.” (Verse 17)

Daniel’s trial worked; he proved that his choice of food was better for him and in return God blessed him with success.

Lesson 2: Your diet impacts your degree 

Do we see the same link? Do we care how our food impacts our studies? How are we feeding our degree? In the first year of my degree when I wasn’t microwaving tupperware meals from weekends visiting home, I was eating oven pizzas, cereal and tinned soup. I was not valuing my health, my body or the impact it had on my studies.

Our Health as Students

Like Daniel, we should value our health whilst on our course. Eating nutritious meals make a difference to our studies because our brain needs food that keeps us alert and gives us high powers of concentration. Daniel believed that in order to be the best worker he could be, he needed to eat the best food possible. Do we value our food in the same way? Living off of ready meals and takeaways is not only disrespectful to the Creator of our temple but can have ill health effects and lead to sluggish behaviour which can be harmful to our grades.

“The human intellect must gain expansion and vigor and acuteness and activity. It must be taxed to do hard work, or it will become weak and inefficient. Brainpower is required to think most earnestly; it must be put to the stretch to solve hard problems and master them, else the mind decreases in power and aptitude to think. The mind must invent, work, and wrestle, in order to give hardness and vigor to the intellect; and if the physical organs are not kept in the most healthful condition by substantial, nourishing food, the brain does not receive its portion of nutrition to work.” (Ellen White, To Be Like Jesus)

Healthy food and drink and a good night’s rest is essential if you want to be at the top of your game. It’s easy to say, “I don’t have time” or “I’m broke” but if you put a little effort then you can find ways to make healthier choices to suit your lifestyle. See my previous post, ‘Keeping Healthy at Uni’ for some ideas.

“Let none who profess godliness regard with indifference the health of the body, and flatter themselves that intemperance is no sin, and will not affect their spirituality. A close sympathy exists between the physical and the moral nature.”(Ellen White, Counsels on Diet and Food)

Our physical welfare impacts our behaviour and so like Daniel, if we want to be the best kind of students, we need to eat the best kind of food. Daniel’s wholesome food provided him with a great appearance and led to a number of talents and skills. He could have easily compromised and eaten the King’s junk but he knew that God’s menu of healthy foods would make him a better person.

 Let us pledge that this term we will be intentional about what we eat in order to fuel a powerful body and a successful degree. 

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