A THOUSAND WORDS
Like many people during this corona-quarantine, I’ve been sorting out paperwork at my house. Today, I found a bag filled with greeting cards I received during my cancer battle. Within the stack, I found a little card that contained a painting of Daniel in the lion’s den. It was a Holy Card from “Saints Galore Catholic Publishing,” the owner is my friend, Sandy. I once again appreciated that she sent it to encourage me. Upon picking it up today, I saw something I hadn’t noticed before, and it prompted a study into the book of Daniel. You can read the account in the book of Daniel, chapter 6. A picture can be worth 1,000 words; this one did for me.
The accounts of Daniel are rich with timeless stories, encouragement, and lessons. I based today’s blog in chapter six. Chapters 1-6 of Daniel are a fascinating read full of courage, power, and dense kings. It depicts how the faithful are saved from their government so they make a change and help their people.
Due to his tremendous favor and major promotion from their king, several leaders in the realm conspired to take Daniel down. They studied him intently, searching for any indiscretion or corruption they could use to set him up. Sound familiar? It’s everywhere. When they couldn’t find anything, they decided to trap him by using his Achilles heel, devotion to God. To do this, they tricked King Darius into issuing a decree that would require him to throw his trusted and beloved advisor, Daniel, into a lion’s den. Unfortunately, it worked. This kingdom kept man-eating lions alive to punish criminals and offenders. That den of lions was accustomed to a fresh meal when they heard soldiers and citizens leading prisoners to the edge of their shelter. I’m sure that they were ready and waiting for their next meal. That was Daniel.
“6 Then these high officials and satraps came by agreement[a] to the king and said to him, “O King Darius, live forever! 7 All the high officials of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the counselors and the governors are agreed that the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an injunction, that whoever makes petition to any god or man for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions. 8 Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, which cannot be revoked.” 9 Therefore King Darius signed the document and injunction.”Daniel 6: 6-9
VISIONS OF DOOM
Daniel was waiting too. I wonder what was going through his head as he was ushered to the lion’s den. I know the torment of seeing something tragic about to happen and feeling powerless to prevent it. Did Daniel see his life flash before him in the mere seconds between being hurled down and hitting the ground? How could terror not strike him when he landed in the middle of the pride of lions? Then all of the light disappeared as his enemies covered the den with a stone. The eerie glow of the predator’s eyeshine pierced him from the darkness. When his vision adjusted, he saw human bones from the prior victims. They had no life, no voice, but the presence of these bones prophesied death. There wasn’t even a tunnel in which to see the light at the end. He was trapped, dead-ended, and surrounded by reminders of his impending doom. I’ve been to this place and I’m sure you have too. This is the perfect set of conditions for panic and anxiety attacks. Daniel made it through with grace. Though it’s not natural for me, my goal is to make it through these things with grace like Daniel.
19 When my anxious thoughts [a] multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul.Psalm 94:19 (NASB)
SLEEPING IN THE PIT
We all deal with tragedy and fear but they are unique to us as individuals. A temporary fix is to distract ourselves from it by filling our lives with so many things we can’t see. However, sometimes we hit bottom. At the bottom of that cave, Daniel came face to face with his fears. There was no ignoring the bones or the growls, eyes, or even the breath of the vicious, powerful creatures surrounding him. Do you think Daniel got any sleep that night? We all vacillate between trusting God and fear, especially within the darkness of our trials. I can’t imagine laying down to sleep in that situation. We’ve felt afraid to rest or enjoy life too much just in case tragedy strikes. Could you imagine trying to sleep in a pit full of lions among the remains of their victims? He had to chase away the images of those talking bones prophesying his death. Daniel had to use some strategies to get on top of those anxious thoughts and fears that the worst could happen at any second. Yes, God shut the mouth of the lions, but did he see it that way the entire time in the cave? I don’t think he did at least initially.
“Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength.”― Corrie Ten Boom
GUARDING OUR SANITY AND FAITH
Daniel had to have wondered why. Why did God allow him to be thrown into the lion’s den? When I was first diagnosed with cancer, I asked “why” like most people hit with tragedy. I still do in new difficulties. It’s a natural and understandable question, but one that rarely satisfies us with an answer. For many things, we can’t see the answer and won’t until we can see it from the unencumbered hindsight of heaven. We can’t allow ourselves to marinate in a question that has no answer. If Daniel constantly dwelled on asking God why this happened to him, his view of himself would be that of a helpless victim of a confusing or uncaring God. Daniel didn’t get through the den with his sanity intact by focussing on his helplessness. I’m sure Daniel reminded himself of how God helped and delivered him before. Music is so powerful, he helped me on those tormenting nights to light that cave of pain, weakness, and depression from chemo. It goes beyond words and meaning and praise touches the power of God. I think Daniel sang. I believe that the praise and pouring out of his heart echoes thought that cave bouncing off of the walls and to the heart of God. If he did, he never has emerged from the lion’s den as the grateful, steady man that advised kings and help influence kingdoms. My favorite right now is Lauren Daigle.
“RESCUE YOU” BY LAUREN DAIGLE
21 Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! 22 My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.Daniel 6:21-22
The bones of previous victims spoke to me when I saw the holy card. I’ve seen my version of the bones in the depths of my own lion’s dens. When I had trouble with reoccurring tormenting thoughts during stage 4, I stumbled across something strange that helped me. I set a time to let worry run amuck. I followed the mental trail and took those thoughts to the end, the worst-case scenario. Once in the light, the worst case was specific and more easily contained. The Bible says that the truth will set us free. I love it when scriptures have shades of meaning like that. Then I began using what I now call “The Interrupting Cow.” (see the video below) Daniel’s response and demeanor, once the stone was rolled away, indicated that he got on top of it all within the darkness. Daniel had a crash course with facing the worst as he crashed on the floor of that pit. To be that man who immerged from the den, he had to interrupt those talking bones and growling lions and flip the script on them. Why do we the bones in our life to finish their stress-inducing thoughts? When those bones speak to us about the worst that could happen, let’s become the Interrupting Cow and speak aloud our statements of truth.
31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”John 8:31-32 (ESV)
“INTERRUPTING COW” STARTS @ 00:40
We can’t be polite with our torments or talking bones. We must interrupt them and flip their scripts. Below are a few scriptures I find helpful. When we face problems that require an act of God. Let’s ask God for the act that we require. I pray that God will bless you, that when you call on him he will answer you, he will be with you, keep you, and show you his salvation.
God will save me and satisfy me with long lifePsalm 91:16
I shall not die but live and declare the works of the Lord.Proverbs 118:17
So I will not fear for God is with me. I will not be dismayed for he is my God. He will help me, strengthen me, and uphold me.Isaiah 41:10
Nothing can separate me from the love of God. Angels can’t separate me from the love of God. Demons can’t separate me from the love of God. Nothing in the present or the future, no power, no hight, no depth, nor anything in all of creation can separate me from God’s great love that’s in Jesus our LordRomans 8:38 -39
Love and Blessings,