For He Rescues and Delivers
Open Your Bible
Daniel 6:1-28, Psalm 37:1-11, Isaiah 26:3-4, James 1:2-5
For the vast majority of my life, I have been terrified of losing people I love. I don’t think this is a unique fear; in fact, I think it may be the most commonly shared anxiety for most of humankind. When we love someone—a parent, child, spouse, or friend—we can become paralyzed at the thought of something happening to them. For me, it wakes me up in the middle of the night when people I love are traveling. It compels me to sneak into my daughters’ room and hold my hand to their chests while they sleep, making sure they are breathing. It keeps me at an emotional distance from people, because the cost of losing them seems insurmountable.
The story of Daniel in the lions’ den is not a story about Daniel’s fear. In fact, the text does not reveal to us at any point that Daniel was afraid. Daniel knew the cost of praying to the Lord, and he did it anyway. This book, most likely written by Daniel himself, doesn’t mention Daniel’s emotional state in these moments. But it does show us quite a bit about King Darius.
First, we learn how much the king loved Daniel. “He set his mind on rescuing Daniel” (Daniel 6:14). Then, we see how Darius reacted when Daniel was in the den of lions. He “spent the night fasting” (v.18) and “he could not sleep” (v.18). The next morning, the king “hurried to the lions’ den” (v.19), and “cried out in anguish” (v.20). When Daniel was safe, the king was “overjoyed” (v.23).
I can’t recall the number of times I’ve been through those exact emotions. I lie awake in absolute fear and dread, but when the morning comes, I am relieved with good news. On a few occasions, those nights (or metaphorical nights) don’t end in relief, but in overwhelming sadness, in the fruition of my worst fears.
King Darius rejoiced when Daniel exited the den alive, and he praised the Lord. He believed in Daniel’s God, the one true God of Israel. God had a plan for Daniel’s trial, and a plan for the king’s dark night of the soul. Daniel trusted God; Darius learned to trust God.
But I know from my own experience that God’s trustworthiness is not based on the outcomes of our trials. In fact, James says we should count it all joy when we face trials of any kind—not just the kind that turns out the way we want. Not long ago, I spent night after night tossing and turning, binging shows, and praying because I was convinced by my own fear that something really awful was going to happen. Then that thing did happen. My metaphorical Daniel did not come out of its lion’s den alive. And yet, God is still on His throne. Jesus is still King. My faith is a little dinged up, but my God is not. Isaiah tells us in Isaiah 26 that perfect peace comes from trusting God, not in God preserving us from the worst of all our fears.
Sometimes God rescues and delivers us from specific fears, like in the story of Daniel and Darius. He doesn’t always though. But He does deliver us from the ultimate fear and loss, which would be life without him. And so God sent Jesus, His son, who suffered His own dark night of fear in the garden of Gethsemane, before He went to die on the cross. But that death, and the glorious resurrection three days later, secures a fearless future for those who believe in Jesus Christ.