Ever feel like that? Ever been there? All options exhausted. All exits blocked. Out of ideas and out of time. Daniel found himself in just such a situation centuries ago. He found himself in a den of hungry lions with no way out. And no, this is not a metaphor for his life at that time. Daniel was in an actual den full of real, not virtual, hungry lions. We read in Daniel 6:16-17,
“So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, ‘May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!’ A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel’s situation might not be changed.”
Ok, that sounds pretty final to me. A stone blocking the exit – “so that Daniel’s situation might not be changed.” This sounds like the end of the story to me. BUT GOD – Imagine the king’s surprise when –
“At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, ‘Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?’ Daniel answered, ‘O king, live forever! My God sent His angel, and he 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.’ ” (Daniel 6:19-22)
It looked to everyone, including the king, like Daniel’s story was over. BUT GOD! But God intervened, sending His angel and shutting the mouths of the lions. It wasn’t the end of Daniel’s story at all. It was simply a plot twist, one quite unexpected to those who had orchestrated the events that put Daniel in the lions’ den in the first place. Daniel’s enemies did not foresee this surprise ending. They did not factor “BUT GOD” into their equation of events and possible outcomes. (they had been plotting Daniel’s demise for some time)
I’m sure they were very surprised in the morning to learn that Daniel was still alive and even more surprised at what happened next. It was quite the turn of events, to be sure.
“The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. At the king’s command, the men who had falsely accused Daniel were brought in and thrown into the lions’ den, along with their wives and children. . . . Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations and men of every language throughout the land: . . . ‘I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. 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.’ So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.” (Daniel 6:23-28)
What appeared to be Daniel’s downfall and destruction, became instead his stepping stone to a high position of service not only to the current king but also to the king who would succeed him. And what’s more, Daniel’s night with the lions brought honor and glory to God, as Daniel gave God thanks and praise for saving his life, telling the king that it was God who sent the angel and shut the lions’ mouths, not anything he, Daniel, was able to do.
Daniel’s story gives me hope when I am in my own den of lions. When the exit is blocked, all appeals exhausted, I am out of ideas and options – it is then I discover that it is just me and a bunch of hungry lions locked in with me, leaving me to wonder if I will survive the night. Peter warned about this in 1 Peter 5:8 when he said,
“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
Then I remember that it is not just me and the lions in this place of no escape. God is right there with me, just as He was with Daniel. He is still an Omnipresent God. When I find myself alone with the lions, King David’s words come to mind –
“I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.” (Psalm 40:1-3)
Today it is easy to feel hemmed in by circumstances that elude our control. Evil, deception and division seem to be devouring innocent lives. There seems to be no way of escape. BUT GOD! He is my hope today and every day. There may be no way out of the lions’ den – BUT GOD! He is –
“able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us,” (Ephesians 3:20)
“But God will redeem my life from the grave; He will surely take me to Himself.” (Psalm 49:15)
sincerely, Grace Day