1 John 5:4 Because everyone who is a child of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world—our faith.”
Think of a time you have been the most afraid. Your heart is pounding, your mind racing, a pit fills your stomach, and you feel as if you can't breathe. Go back to that moment when you simply prayed, “God, help me.”
Now join me in the lion’s den with Daniel, with all those feelings. These are real lions. Not zoo trained lions but very hungry man-eating lions and you are now their main course. Can you hear the pads of their feet hit the hard cave floor with each step as they pace back and forth circling you? Can you hear and feel their growls echo through the walls, rumbling, vibrating through your body? Look at their sharp teeth and feel their warm breath as they are you licking their mouths. Claws sharp enough to cut through you with one swing and the smell of dead meat they have already eaten, on their breath. These are real lions, and the danger Daniel was in was real.
Let's now join Jonah. Perhaps being in a lion’s den can be frightening but how about being alive in the stomach of a fish? It's dark and smelly, unknown substances floating around you all slimy and sticky. Feel the seaweed wrapped around your hands, legs, and head. You're floating at times feeling as if you're going to drown as the water sloshes around tossing you every which way. As the eerie darkness surrounds you and gurgling and digesting sounds fill the space, and your breathing becomes more difficult, you wonder how long you have, to live.
Come with me one more time with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Feel the ropes tighten around your wrists as the soldiers push you toward a furnace, knowing that soon flames will be swirling around you. Can you hear the jeers of the crowd, can you see the look on King Nebuchadnezzar's face, of disappointment and anger? You stand there as the soldier’s pile on the wood and you hear King Nebuchadnezzar yell over the noise to make the furnace hotter. Smell the embers burning as you see the flames begin. Feel the heat rise through the furnace knowing it's only a matter of time before you are consumed. You step closer to your fellow friends, the heat unbearable as the drops of sweat begin.
In all three instances I know I would be terrified as I believe Daniel, Jonah, and the three boys were. The only thing they could do in that moment was pray, “help me Lord!”
For Daniel, what happened that night in the den was a miracle. When Daniel prayed a light shone brightly as God sent an Angel to protect Daniel. With one word the mouths of the hungry lions were shut. In those hours Daniel had time to commune with God and strengthen his faith even more, as he watched the once terrifying lions now sit calmly as if tamed, like pets.
For Jonah, again a miracle by God. Not with Angels but a chance to live and do the right thing. Three days Jonah had time to commune with God. Three days he had time to renew his walk with God and after three days, he was spit back onto the dry land, alive and unharmed. Wiser and ready to do the Lord's will.
For Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego God did not hesitate to step in as soon as the flames filled the furnace. Not one hair was harmed, not one strand of clothing singed, God stood there with the three boys protecting them from death in the burning furnace. A witness to King Nebuchadnezzar and all those there that day, that God will protect us when we stand up for our faith and trust God's faithfulness.
What can we learn from these three stories? We can learn that we serve an awesome God who will always save us from danger when all we have left is to cry out, “Help me God!” Sometimes, like Daniel and the three boys in the furnace, our faith will put us in danger and sometimes, like Jonah, we put ourselves in danger. But all the time, God is there to pull us out of danger. Like Peter, when he lost sight of God and began drowning, all he needed to do was ask God to help, reach up, and Jesus was there with His strong hand pulling him to safety.
In those times when you are most afraid, believe and trust God when He says He will rescue you from danger. When we choose Jesus, our walk will not always be easy and there will be times we will face trials and tribulation, we will have to stand up for Jesus, even if the threat of death from a lion’s den or fiery furnace looms over us. That’s okay, because what these stories show us is that our faith in God is stronger than anything this world can do to us. We can learn that even in those trials and tribulations God will be by our side going through them with us and protecting us. And while we go through these times, we may find quiet moments to commune with God and draw closer to Him. Take your greatest fears, take the times you would be most afraid and say, “It's okay, I know that God is on my side, what can man do to me.”
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