Staring death in the face, a man has survived a night trapped with a pride of lions. The man had been thrown into the lion’s den by a group of men who had been infuriated by the man of faith and his good standing in the community. Conspiring a cunning plot to have him sentenced to death, they had him thrown into the den and the entrance sealed tight. Left to suffer an excruciating death by lion’s bite, he was not expected to survive the night.
But unlike the den in which he was trapped, this man’s fate was not sealed. Against all odds and to the jaw-dropping amazement of his oppressors the man walked out of the den unharmed when they came to inspect his anticipated demise the following morning.
All were astounded at the sight and celebrated rapturously at his triumphant survival. That is of course with the exception of the lions, who remained exceedingly hungry. And quite possibly the man’s accusers, who inevitably helped to satisfy the hunger of said lions.
The story of Daniel in the lion’s den is a remarkable example of enduring faith in the midst of tremendous opposition. Daniel was a marked man. He had enemies and they wanted him dead. His enemies went to great lengths to seek Daniel’s demise but through it all Daniel’s faithful trust in God carried him through these hard times.
We all face hard times in our lives. Our hardships might relate to our health, relationships, family situations, frustration at work or for not having fulfilling work, or like Daniel you might find yourself under persecution for your faith. In all situations of hardship we can take great encouragement from Daniels example. In it we find three truths about enduring hard times that will empower us to rise from the experience with a stronger faith as we learn to trust in God.
Make Prayer and Thankfulness a Daily Habit
When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously
Daniel was in a hostile crowd even before he was thrown into the lion’s den. He was so disliked that a group of people tricked the King into signing a document that made it illegal to worship and pray to any God except the King himself. A crime carrying a death sentence by lions jaws!
Faced with this dangerous level of persecution for his faith Daniel’s response is nothing short of remarkable and yet it was also so simple. Daniel’s first response was to pray. But not just to pray for his own immediate need, instead he chose to give thanks.
It’s business as usual for Daniel. He was completely unwavering in his faith, trusting in God even though there was a dramatic change in his personal safety because of his faith. The most amazing thing about Daniel’s response is the final few words “as he had done previously”. What we learn from Daniel is to make prayer and thankfulness a habit in all situations rather than just a response we active in hard times when we need a quick fix.
Trust that God Comes Closer
In spite of Daniel’s unwavering faith the situation went from bad to worse. He wasn’t just at risk of being thrown in with the lions anymore, he was now up close and personal, staring imminent death in the face.
I can’t help but think that when Daniel had been praying he would have asked to be spared this fate by not being thrown in with the lions. And yet here he is, chucked in with the hungry beasts. What’s gone wrong? Shouldn’t God have prevented this? It seems like an unanswered prayer, a prayer that has fallen on deaf ears and been ignored. The situation had gone from bad to worse, what hope did Daniel have left?
The key to faithfully enduring hardship is this: to rest assured that when the situation goes from bad to worse, God comes closer. In the midst of Daniels darkest hour, faced with imminent death, God was closer than ever before in the presence of an angel. God’s presence did not remove Daniel from the hardship he was experiencing, but he met him there and carried him through till daybreak.
My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions
Friends when we endure hardship, when we feel abandoned and our prayers unanswered, trust in God who is faithful, that he is drawing closer to you. God is an active presence in our lives. We may feel trapped by the situations in our life that we cannot change. In amidst this turmoil know that God is at work. He is shaping and changing the situation behind the scene in ways in which we may not even be aware. Seek him and trust him through the darkest hour until sunrise.
Your Endurance Enables His Triumph
There is a greater purpose at work when enduring hardship. Through hardship our heavenly father is made evident to us in real, tangible, and undeniable ways. The triumph he wins in our life boosts our faith as it writes the story of our testimony. God is a real and active presence in our lives, so we are empowered to endure hardship as it is writing our testimony of God’s faithfulness in our lives.
But it goes beyond just ourselves. The testimony of God’s faithfulness cannot be contained and it bursts forth for all to see and hear. For Daniel, the whole kingdom experienced God through his triumph over the lion’s den:
I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel, for he is the living God, enduring forever; his kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be to the end. He delivers and rescues; he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, he who has saved Daniel from the power of the lions
Through His triumph in your life his name is praised. Through His triumph the people close to you will see and know that God is an active part of your life. Through His triumph your faith grows to new depths in the secure foundation of Knowing that God is with you through all situations. Although the hard times in your life might feel dark, cold, and lonely, God is guiding you through to a deeper and richer relationship with Him.
Kingdom Warriors, enduring hard times will be a part of our lives. Take heart from Daniel’s experience in the lion’s den. Continue to seek God in prayer and thankfulness through all situations, trust that he is actively seeking to affect your situation for the better, and praise Him with your testimony when His faithfulness changes your situation.