He Delivers and Rescues

By Hannah Kessler, Partnership Coordinator

Sometimes when you are in the middle of a disastrous situation, it is virtually impossible to see the blessings surrounding you. I remember driving into Clendenin with some teammates from Next Step as soon as the flood waters were gone in Clendenin to take a look at the damage. If you had told me that 9 months later I would be moving into Clendenin and working hand in hand with a long term recovery committee, I would not have believed you for a moment. Through volunteers, neighbors helping neighbors, and  local churches, God is blessing this state in ways we could have never dreamed.

I have a friend in Clendenin who has worked alongside her neighbors ever since the flood. Recently, she has been telling me of all the things that have happened to her lately. Things she know can’t be a coincidence. A few months ago, she got home after a long day of helping her neighbors, put her feet up to take her work boots off, and realized that the soles were coming apart on the bottom of her boots. She had worked so hard that her heavy duty work boots weren’t holding up. Being a flood survivor herself, she knew buying a new pair of work boots would be an investment for her at this point in her life, but she just didn’t have the money to spare. There were so many other things to be done. The next morning, she got a phone call from a neighbor, asking what size shoes she wore. The neighbor had a pair of work boots given to her the day before, but they were too big. They fit my friend just right. This is just one of the many ways God has been showing himself to my friend, and people all over this town recently. It is sometimes through the little, simple ways God reminds us we are not alone in this world.

When the flood hit, it was Thursday, June 23rd. On Sunday, June 26th local churches opened their doors to other church congregations whose facilities were damaged, or destroyed by the flooding. Although we would like to say this was a natural reaction, sometimes church partnership can be difficult, where small miscommunications or misunderstandings in leadership can divide churches for generations to come. Through a disastrous storm, churches partnered together immediately, and those relationships are still holding strong today.

The Old Testament book of Daniel is named after the main character, a man who we see throughout the book. When picking up in chapter six though, we realize this could be considered one of the more disastrous times of his life.

Daniel was a great guy, and the king liked him a lot. So much so that “Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials, because an excellent spirit was in him.” These other high officials didn’t appreciate that Daniel was getting more attention than they were, so they conspired against him. They created an ordinance, that whoever made a petition to any god or man for thirty days, except to the king, would be cast into the den of lions. The king naively signed it, and that was that.

The men knew that Daniel loved God, and always prayed to Him.

Although Daniel was aware of the document, he went to his house, in an upper window open towards Jerusalem. “He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had previously done.This is not the main point, but should be said. Daniel didn’t change his routine because of this new rule. He spoke with God, and continued to pray and give God thanks. As he had previously done, he continued to do. We, likewise, should not change the routine of praying, learning about, and giving thanks to God just because our circumstances change.

Moving on, the men saw Daniel praying as they hoped they would, and approached the king. They reminded him of his ordinance, and said “Did you not sign an injunction, that anyone who makes petition to any god or man within thirty days except to you, oh king, shall be cast into the den of lions?” The king said yes, and they knew they had succeeded. They told the king, “Daniel pays no attention to you… but makes his petition three times a day.” The king was immediately worried, because he genuinely liked Daniel and didn’t want to see him killed. But eventually he had no choice. It seemed like he was in an impossible situation, and “the king commanded, and Daniel was brought and cast into the den of lions.” But then the king says, as Daniel is being cast into a den: “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!”

You see, there was something about Daniel, and something about Daniel’s God.

There is no way Daniel should have a chance. He’s thrown into a den of hungry, vicious lions. I think sometimes we make this story less of a miracle than it is, because we remember it as the cute sock-puppet lions from our Sunday school days. This is not the case.

In an article published by The Smithsonian, titled “Man-Eaters of Tsavo”, we are reminded of the ferocity of lions. “In 1898, two lions terrorized crews constructing a railroad bridge over the Tsavo River, killing—according to some estimates—135 people. “Hundreds of men fell victim to these savage creatures, whose very jaws were steeped in blood,” wrote a worker on the railway. “Bones, flesh, skin and blood, they devoured all, and left not a trace behind them.”’

So now that we remember that lions are, in fact, vicious wild creatures, and are to be immensely feared, we continue with our story. “Then the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; no diversions were brought to him, and sleep fled from him.” It would seem, at this point in the story, the king is feeling ashamed. He knows that he, through his ordinance, killed Daniel, and loses sleep over it that night.

But I think that is only part of it.  We continue to read, and realize that the king fasted all night,  not only because of his guilt for sending Daniel to the lion’s den, but also because there was some inkling of hope Daniel is still alive. “Then, at the break of day, the king arose and went in haste to the den of lions. As he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish… ‘O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?’”

And Daniel responds.

“O king, live forever! My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouth, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king. I have done no harm.” Then the king was exceedingly glad, and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. And the king commanded, and those men who had maliciously accused Daniel were brought and cast into the den of lions–they, their children, and their wives. And before they reached the bottom of the den, the lions overpowered them and broke all of their bones in pieces.” After this, the king addresses the people, and makes 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.”

As we read scripture like this, from the book of Daniel, and consider the ways that God has delivered and rescued us, we must, like Daniel from the den of lions, respond. Do we respond to God’s graciousness and mercy in our lives by giving Him the glory, or do we say it is irony or coincidence?

Let’s not take from God what is only His, and that is the honor and glory for all of the big and small things in our lives.“If there is a God in heaven, there is no such thing as a mere coincidence, not even in the smallest affairs of life”

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