The other day, I read in the book of Daniel for my devotions. The passage was in chapter six recounting the story of Daniel in the lions' den. Now, Daniel and his three Hebrew friends do fascinate me. Their boldness and faith certainly leave a tremendous legacy to learn from! So when I got to verse twenty-three in my reading, I was rejoicing in a new way over how God brings deliverance.
I have had many thoughts concerning these two stories of miraculous deliverance in this little book, and a few life applications. There have been times when I have been going through a difficult battle, or I have seen a loved one in the midst of the “fire,” so to speak, and I have compared their struggles with the fiery furnace or the lions' den. It has comforted me to also compare the companions these Biblical heroes had during their severe testing with the companions God sent to me during my struggle. Just knowing that He was close by my side, whether I could sense His presence or not, gave me strength, indeed!
I have also thought about the outcome of the trial, and the faith of those who witnessed it. I know we have others watching our lives. On the onset, they may have no faith at all, such as Nebuchadnezzar; or they may have some faith, but are just stupid, such as King Darius. Nevertheless, they are looking on. God knows all this, and I believe He is anticipating the question, “...is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?” (Daniel 6:20) Therefore, we can expect that in a life fully surrendered to Him, the outcome of the trial will bring glory to HIM! Those witnessing the trial will surely be able to say, “The God, whom they have served continually, certainly WAS able to deliver them from the lions!”
Well, those are some of the thoughts that have accumulated over the past few years. Aren't you glad, though, that God continues to speak to us through His Word? I started out this blog post by mentioning that I had read this story the other day, and I had a new cause for rejoicing. Verse twenty-three says, “...So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God.” This is what stood out to me ...no manner of hurt was found upon him... That is nothing new! We all knew that! And it was even said of the three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace as they came out “...upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.” (Daniel 3:27) The fire had no power! These are such amazing miracles! Wonderful Sunday School stories! My favorite story from childhood is “Cool in the Furnace!” I still sing songs from that musical to my kids! But my epiphany was in the recollection of my battles and the anticipation of things to come. Have I come through my trials without the “smell of smoke” or the “stench of lions' breath?” Even though the trials we have experienced have been allowed by God, they most likely have been initiated by Satan or one of his minions. The devil's intention is to annihilate our faith in God or maim our spirit in some way. If we could at least have our “hair singed” or have “teeth marks” in the calves of our legs, then he will have triumphed. Yes, we survived, but we are missing something because of it. For instance, maybe I survived cancer, but I retained the “smell of smoke” because I became lost in grief over my baby not bonding to me like other babies bond to their mothers—I was too sick to care for her during her crucial time. Or, I came through a miscarriage, and I still have my health, but a Sunday School girl conceived out of wedlock around the same time and delivered a healthy baby; and if I would have become bitter over the "unfairness" of it all it could have left “teeth marks.” But that is not how God intends to help us through our trials. When we are surrendered to Him, He helps us to come through with no “smoke smell or lions' breath!” No bitterness, no strife, no dissension, no anger! He gives us the grace to overcome valiantly! When we believe in our God, He promises to bring us through. Not by the skin of our teeth, but to a mighty victory! “That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:7) I am so grateful for life (since so many others receive a death sentence through cancer), and Madelyn and I are working on that bond! I'm sure the older she gets and the more she is able to understand, she will very likely be amazed at the way God spared her life! He has a definite plan for her, and us! As for the Sunday School girl, God helped me to love her and love her baby. It is not up to me to determine who gets life, and who goes to heaven first. I am happy to leave that up to God! My desire is to come through my trials victoriously—with no “smell of smoke” on my spirit or “teeth marks” in my faith!