The Lion Sleeps Tonight

September 6th, 2007 • Category: Book of Daniel
by Theresa Benson

Today’s scripture: Daniel 6:10-18 (NRSV) (The Message)

As you read, consider: What might God be saying to me? Summarize your thoughts in a sentence or two.

My thoughts (Theresa Benson):

Now when Daniel learned that the decree was published…he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.

He did what?!

At least hide out a little bit — do it when no one’s looking. Don’t just keep doing the same thing — you’re just ASKING to be found out and get thrown in the lion’s den! Where’s your common sense?

I must admit that’s exactly what I thought the first time I read today’s passage. And then I had my “Aha” moment. I realized, God isn’t asking us to act with “common” sense. Of course not! God asks us to be UNcommon, to stand as witnesses of God’s grace and love to those around us.

Take another look at the example Daniel gives us. He was in exile in another country, but rather than bemoan his fate, he focused on and excelled at his job, all while maintaining his relationship with God and making the right connections within the political circles of his time so he could advance. At the moment he begins to receive pressure (in the potential form of some very hungry lions), rather than changing his ways, he sees it for what it really is, and gives thanks to God for the opportunity to witness to those around him by being steadfast in his faith.

And what happens? If even for a brief moment, the King steps outside his own religious beliefs long enough to say a prayer for Daniel that “his” God might have mercy on him.

What’s your lion’s den? Are you willing to change in order to avoid dealing with it?

For me, one of my lions’ dens is a challenging situation with a co-worker we’ll call Jane. No matter the situation, she seems to know exactly what buttons to push, what things to say, or the exact way to behave that is 180 degrees away from where I need her to be. She can be counted on to disrupt the smooth flow of business about once a week. When I see on my calendar that I have a meeting coming up that she’ll be at, I used to cringe and brace myself for yet another headache of a day, filled with frustration and exasperation.

And then I remembered what Jesus instructed us to do in a situation like this — “love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you” — and so I tested it out. I tell you what — it’s pretty difficult to be exasperated with someone who you’re praying for, asking for Jesus’s love to be in their life, and requesting that God bless them ahead of the meeting you’re about to have! And without that exasperation, there’s a calm that comes over me, and I’m able to have a better meeting because of the energy I’m bringing to the table, as well.

I know that God is with Jane and me and I have seen firsthand the transformative power God can have in my lion’s den of a meeting. While Jane and I aren’t best friends, things have certainly gotten better than they were when I wasn’t praying for her, and I can honestly say she doesn’t “exasperate” me any more. And I would hope that she might be able to say the same about me.

I imagine Daniel, too, knew the power that prayer and regular communication with God can have on helping us to calm down, focus on what’s important, and find that part of us that knows that God will be with us no matter what.

So when you find yourself about to encounter a lion’s den in your life, I’d like to recommend trying what Daniel did, and thank God for the gift that’s about to be given you.

Thought for the day: I’ll remember Daniel’s example when I’m about to be fed to the lions.

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.

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"Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10
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