Setting Boundaries When You Feel Helpless

Set-Boundaries-HelplessDo you ever feel like you’re powerless to set boundaries in critical situations? What if someone else seems to hold all of the power in a relationship? Consider the biblical story of Daniel for answers:

Daniel 1:1-20 – “In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God…Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring into the king’s service some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility—young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians. The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service.

But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel, but the official told Daniel, ‘I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.’

Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over him, ‘Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.’ So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.

At the end of the ten days, Daniel looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead. God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.

It would have been easy for Daniel to follow the king’s edict and eat foods that would have made them unclean. Instead he reviewed his options and made choices that allowed him to take control of his situation.

There are times in life in which we feel helpless or trapped. We may be in a relationship in which someone is controlling us. Or we may have a habit that is getting out of control. One of the best things we can do is to carefully consider our options. It is rare that we are totally helpless with no choices available to us.

Daniel, a prisoner with no rights of his own, made choices that helped him and protected his purity with God. Perhaps our choice is to voice our opinion, as Daniel did. Or it may be to ask for help. It doesn’t matter — the point is to be aware of our options and make good choices and then do the next right thing.


Life Journey Bible_smFind more insightful commentary from Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend, read the NIV Life Journey Bible, which combines the world’s most accessible Bible translation with exclusive boundaries teaching.





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