Sometimes when I turn on the news, I feel a bit defeated. It seems our culture is taking so many wrong turns in terms of values and civility. Add to this the personal issues that creep into our lives when people attack us, challenge our views or treat us in unfair ways. The result can be discouragement. Sometimes we feel, what is the point? We might as well give up because so much seems to be working against us.
But this week, in Daniel 6, I am reminded of the power of standing firm in difficult times. Daniel knew this first hand. He was framed and about to be thrown to the lions, literally. Prior to this, Daniel had favor with the king and was given power in his kingdom. For whatever reason (e.g., jealousy, competition, etc.), those under Daniel’s rule plotted a way to entrap Daniel so that the king would have to get rid of him.
The way they entrapped Daniel was to find him doing the thing they could not stop him from doing-praying. Prayer was what centered Daniel, kept him connected to God and trusting in God. Prayer helped Daniel confront a dangerous culture and stand in the midst of opposition. In prayer, Daniel could hold on to God and His promises. He could withstand the attacks on his life.
Daniel teaches us to trust God in a dangerous world, to pray God’s promises even when we are in the pit and want to give up. Through difficulty, we look for signs of his mercy even when things look bleak. That’s what Spring does for me. It reminds me that in the winter of my soul, new life is about to bloom.
God is faithful even when we have no idea how things will turn out. God is in the pit with us. Daniel’s faith had legs. Facing the lions, he chose to trust God. Literally in the pit, he believed God was with him whether he delivered him or not. Daniel chose to leave the results to God. Good or bad, God was not his genie on a string. God was in control and would be faithful to Daniel until the end.
This is the kind of faith we must have in difficult times. We look around and things don’t make sense. But God is in present and controls our future. When we face our lion’s den, God is perfectly capable of shutting the mouths of our accusers (the lions) or taking us home to be with Him. Blessed be the name of Lord, who gives and takes away. Can we say this in troubled times? Do we bless the Lord and trust Him for our future? Faith says we do despite what pit we find ourselves in.
Whatever it is that is discouraging you, note the cure the psalmist David employed in Psalm 103:1-5. David talks to himself in a way that uplifts his soul. He tells his soul to bless the Lord and to remember the benefits of serving God.
David wrote this psalm to encourage himself in the Lord, something we need to do regularly. Instead of focusing on all of his problems, David decided to engage his will and rehearsed the goodness of God. He begins the psalm by blessing the Lord. Then, he praises the Lord for all His benefits. Try it and see how your soul will be uplifted!
Praise the LORD, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the LORD, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits. Psalm 103:1-2