I made a commitment a few months ago that I would read at least five chapters of the Bible each morning to start my day. It’s not like I did not read the Bible before that, but I noticed I had not made it a discipline, so my reading was kind of hit and miss. I was reading a lot of stuff that talked about the Bible, but that’s not the same as reading God’s word.
The New Testament is a pretty easy read for me. It’s the Old Testament that always bogs me down. There are parts that are like Biblical Sominex! So after getting through the New Testament I decided I would read the Old Testament from the back to the front. I figured that if I started with what are called the “Minor Prophets” I’d get through more than I usually do because those books are shorter! So far my plan has worked. I’ve read each book and am now in the middle of Isaiah (66 chapters!).
I bring all this up because each time I read scripture God reveals something new to me. I was in the Book of Daniel when He taught me my latest lesson.
If you’re unfamiliar with Daniel, he was a prophet who was in exile in Babylon. Because God’s hand was on him, Daniel ended up serving the Babylonian kings. This of course ticked off other Babylonian officials who set Daniel up – they convinced the king to decree that anyone who prays to any god other than the king would be thrown to the lions. Daniel being a faithful Hebrew continued to openly pray to God three times a day. The Babylonian officials got him! They told the king about Daniel’s violation of the decree and very reluctantly the king throws Daniel into the lion’s den.
The story is actually pretty well-known. God closes the lion’s mouth and Daniel is not eaten. In the morning when the king comes to check on Daniel he is overjoyed to see him alive, and then throws the scheming Babylonian officials into the den and they are immediately eaten by the now hungry lions!
I’ve read the story numerous times but something hit me this time. God did not save Daniel from the lion’s den; he saved Daniel once he was in the den. Brilliant! Isn’t that how our God works? He doesn’t save us from our circumstances; he saves us within our circumstances.
This may seem like a simple idea at first, but stay with me for a minute. How many times have people wondered why a loving God would allow suffering? The problem with pain in our world is perhaps one of the biggest mysteries we face when dealing with God and our faith. But scripture clearly reveals how God works!
- God did not save Daniel from the lion’s den; He saved Daniel once he was in the den.
- God did not save the Israelites from being chased by the Egyptian Army; He saved them in the midst of the chase by opening the Red Sea
- God did not save David from having to run from King Saul and live in a cave; He saved David through David’s faithfulness and obedience
- God did not save Ruth from losing her husband and moving from her land; He saved her through redemption by Boaz
- God did not save Jesus from scorn, torture, and crucifixion; He saved Jesus through resurrection!
I could go on and on showing how God allowed Job, the judges, the prophets, and the apostles to experience very difficult life circumstances, yet He saved them within those circumstances. And I could write a book on how many times He’s done that with me – and so could you!
God revealed something very important to me the last time I read that Daniel story: I’m going to have to face the lions, but if I put my full trust in God He will see me through. And sometimes that is the tough part. In the midst of our circumstances we like to be in control and try to fix the problem ourselves. We honestly don’t trust God enough to relinquish control to Him and to have certainty in our hearts that God will shut that lion’s mouth for us. We have doubts and those doubts – wherever they come from – keep God from doing for us what we ourselves cannot do.
I don’t know about you but my experience is the more I try to keep control in a crisis the more pain I experience. The more control I give to God; however, the more He protects me and provides for me during the storm.
Think about your life for a moment. Are you facing any lions right now? Do you think you can keep the lion’s mouth shut in your own strength or do you admit that you need God to see you through?
I think I understand what God was revealing to me. It’s not that God doesn’t love us that we are put in the lion’s den; God loves us more than we can fathom. But God also needs us to trust Him and love Him back and what better place to do that than in the lion’s den by having to rely completely on Him in our most desperate time of need?
I’ll be the first to admit this is really, really hard! But I’ll also be the first to praise God because I have been in that den and have seen God’s mighty hand get me through once I was willing to give up control to Him.
How about you? Are you ready to close those lions’ mouths in your life? Seek God with all your heart and all your mind and all your strength and allow God to be powerful in your life by allowing Him to be strong when you are weak.