Thursday, June 20, 2013

In The Lions' Den

Sometimes life makes us feel like we are in a den of hungry lions; pacing, swirling around us, all wanting a bite at us but reality says there's just not enough to go around. Something's gotta' give. Tonight I am feeling a bit pulled in many different directions and wearing many different hats all at once and I am feeling the heat of the lion's breath breathing down my neck wanting a bite! This feeling reminded me to go to scripture and re-read the story of Daniel as he encountered a literal Den of Lions. The story takes place in Daniel chapter 6. I'll summarize it but would encourage you to check it out for yourselves!

Daniel is and exile from Judah who has worked his way up in life politically, socially, and I'm sure in every other way as well but there is one thing distinctly different about this rock star 'exile' living in Babylon, Daniel stays true to God even though it's been years since he's lived among other believers. He has been living in Babylon since he was a young boy, now certainly a young man, he is at the height of his political career and King Darius wants to make Daniel an administrator over the whole nation! A few wise guys decide to throw a wrench into the deal because they are jealous of Daniel's success so they try to find some reason why the king shouldn't let Daniel have the job. When they can't find any reason they decide they need to create a reason so they get the king to order a decree (law) that says for the next 30 days no one can pray to or worship anyone other than the king. They knew that Daniel wouldn't abide by this law so they got the king to order it up Medes & Persians style which means it cannot be undone. The penalty for breaking the law? The lions' den. 
The law is ordered up and the first thing Daniel does is he goes home and prays. He doesn't think about it he just prays. It says 'Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.' v.10 

That made me stop in my tracks. Not that he did something that he had always done, because sometimes we can do things out of habit, but that he 'gave thanks'. For some reason God saw fit for scripture to point out that Daniel didn't just pray, he was giving thanks. That is monumental. I needed to hear that tonight. The second thing that stands out to me in this story is that the law is irreversible. It cannot be changed. The situation is what it is and yet Daniel prays giving thanks. 

So the story goes on to say that the king tries to save Daniel because he likes him but when he realizes that the law he signed cannot be changed he has to let them throw Daniel to the lions. The king actually says to Daniel 'May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!' v.16 He even stays the night next to the den without food/drink/entertainment and waits until morning to see if Daniel's God has indeed rescued him. In the morning the king calls to Daniel and asks if he has been rescued. Daniel responds 'My God sent his angel, and shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O king.' v.22

What stands out to me in this portion of the story is that God doesn't take the lions away or kill them, he simply 'shuts their mouths'. Daniel is still living with the lions so to speak, but they are not a threat. There are many things that we live with everyday that might feel like a lion breathing down your neck; illness, job frustrations, family frustrations, a never ending 'to-do' list, dogs that won't listen, floors that don't stay clean, etc. etc. We all have these things in our lives that feel oppressive and if we let them over take us we can become so consumed by them that we can forget what it means to give thanks and to pray. We forget the one who can shut the mouths of our lions. He may not take them out of our lives completely but he may teach us how to live among them peacefully. 

The story ends with Daniel being pulled from the den of lions and the ruthless men who were so jealous of Daniel in the first place to have the law created were thrown to the lions and they were devoured. King Darius also issues a decree at the end of the chapter that everyone in the land must fear and show reverence to the God of Daniel. It ends with a song: "For he is the Living God and he endures forever, his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. He rescues and he saves, he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions." v.26-27

God won over the heart of King Darius in this story by showing himself faithful to Daniel. Daniel stayed faithful to God and was kept safe from the lions. Ultimately, God uses this situation to win over a nation. Because we live in a democratic society we think it's horrible that this king would order the people to fear a God that they might not have otherwise feared before. In this situation, The king was causing the people to take notice of God when they otherwise would have missed him completely. The song was a testimony of God's faithfulness and meant to show the people that God is trustworthy. No doubt too, when the people looked at Daniel's life they saw evidence of God at work and knew what a life devoted to God really looked like. 

So as I live life in my lions' den it's my hope that my life reflects pieces of this story... prayer, gratitude, faithfulness, and peace. I may be living with my lions for now but at least their mouths are shut! Lord willing, he will pull me out of the den! 

2 comments:

  1. Beautifully written, and so true. Thank you for this.

    I've always been amazed that despite the decree, Daniel continued to pray in a way that was visible to others. If someone told me I'd be thrown in the lions' den for praying, I'd just pray silently in my head! Haha. Daniel trusted God so implicitly, he didn't change his routine.

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  2. You have such a way with words and symbolism - thank you for breaking it down like that! As a SAHM this is a huge inspiration for day to day life working for 'the little people'. :-)

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