Noelle Kirchner, M.Div., is a Presbyterian minister and mother of two boys. As they wrestle on the floor, she enjoys wrestling with her manuscripts. She writes for Huff Post Parents, the TODAY Show Parenting Team, and has been a repeat guest author at in(courage). You can find her on her blog, where she writes about faith and parenting, and on Twitter and Facebook.
The story of Daniel in the lion's den is not just a childhood tale for Sunday school classrooms. It's a story that applies to adults like you and me. If we look past its intrigue and simple exhortation to trust in God, we begin to ask the right questions. Namely, who are our lions and what do our own dens look like? And more importantly, how does our God save?
There are times in our lives when we are simply brought to our knees. The circumstances are too dangerous for us to live through alone - too emotionally taxing, too physically draining, too spiritually challenging. Sometimes these circumstances are the result of unfair actions on the part of others, as was the case with Daniel, but they are always the result of living in a broken and fallen world.
We have no choice but to stand naked before God in scary vulnerability. We want to believe that faith can move mountains, but the physical facts are undeniable and bleak. After all, Daniel was in a den with hungry lions all night. The only exit was protected by a huge boulder and the king's decree that it remain in place. Hopelessness was certain.
In situations of hopelessness, we can discover the true nature of God. The greatest gift God provided Daniel was a protective presence that never left him. Daniel spoke of an angel who shut the lion's mouths. There is a promise embedded in his story for us. For what God has done once, he will do again. God continues to shut lions' mouths today - your lions' mouths - so they will not consume you.
Deliverance looks different from person to person. Sometimes the immediate circumstances change as a result of prayer, and sometimes they do not. But here are four lessons I've learned:
1. God gives us a perspective that allows us to rise above our circumstances. Our time in the lion's den is not an isolated incident, but one incident on a journey with God. When we look at adversity within the context of a faith relationship, we can experience the freedom of a new perspective and better recognize the footprint of our Creator's love.
2. God will always bring deliverance when we remain faithful. As I examine my journeys through adversity, I recognize "lifelines" that I often did not recognize as such at the time. I marvel at God's gracious provision in retrospect. So if you are currently in the lion's den, keep moving forward. God is working.
3. Sometimes deliverance is best evidenced by a change in our hearts. The lions may prowl, our circumstances may or may not change on the outside, but make no mistake that there will be changes on the inside. If we remain dependent on him, God will honor our humility by grafting more of himself into us. And that new part is stronger. Much stronger.
4. Deliverance comes with reward. An earthly king rewards Daniel after his survival in the lion's den. There is an earthly king in Daniel's story so that we do not forget a far more powerful king. The King of Kings is with us and watching. Who knows what blessings our faithfulness will unlock?
We can't forget these lessons. Write them down. Pass them on. Remember God's unfailing presence, and trust. Psalm 91:11 says, "For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways." Angels still protect. Romans 8:31 reminds us, "...If God is for us, who can be against us?" God still fights on behalf of the faithful. When you are shut up in the lion's den, feeling the cold and darkness of fear, remember:
"Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark." ~Nobel prize winner Rabindranath Tagore
Sing, dear friends, sing.
If you want to read more encouragement, I love this article on the value of our suffering entitled A Field Guide for Suffering Well, which was posted on Her.meneutics. Also, check out my other posts entitled Truth in Suffering and Warning: Peaks Ahead.