Trust God in trials to deliver you!

October 29, 2023

Pastor Gunnar Ledermann

Daniel 6:10-12, 16-23

Daniel 6:10-12, 16-23

10 Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. 11 Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help. 12 So they went to the king and spoke to him about his royal decree: “Did you not publish a decree that during the next thirty days anyone who prays to any god or human being except to you, Your Majesty, would be thrown into the lions’ den?”

The king answered, “The decree stands—in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.”

16 So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!”

17 A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel’s situation might not be changed. 18 Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him. And he could not sleep.

19 At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. 20 When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?”

21 Daniel answered, “May the king live forever! 22 My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.”

23 The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.

We have had lots of rain over the last few days. When it rains you wonder if you will get to play outside, go to recess, practice or play your game. Rain changes the way you do things, or even stops events you planned on doing. The rain can quickly change our mood and the way we act with other people. If only there was something that could protect us when it rains.

Jesus knew the forecast for his disciples was dreary. Jesus gave his disciples a detailed forecast of the atmosphere they would face out in the world because of him. In our Gospel reading from Matthew 10, Jesus said,

16 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. 17 Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. 18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles.

The disciples faced a flood of opposition from the religious and political leaders for their trust in Jesus. They would face trials and persecution from mobs of average citizens up to rulers and authorities. Jesus even went on to say, 21 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 22 You will be hated by everyone because of me. Worry and fear filled their hearts drowning their hope as Jesus spoke.

Hundreds of years before Jesus spoke these words to his disciples, Daniel was thrown into a lion’s den for his trust in God. In our Old Testament reading from Daniel 6, a shakeup had occurred in the world powers. The last verses of Daniel 5 read, 30 That very night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonians, was slain, 31 and Darius the Mede took over the kingdom. Scholars put Daniel at around 90 years old when Darius took over. Darius was smart enough to make use of some of the remaining leadership of Babylon, and made Daniel one of three administrators over 120 satraps, which were the governors of the provinces of ancient Persia. God blessed Daniel as a leader causing jealously among the other officials. So, they influenced Darius to issue a decree for all to pray to Darius alone for 30 days or suffer a horrible death being thrown into a lion’s den. When Daniel heard the decree, he continued to pray to God in the upstairs room of his home, but the officials caught him there and reported him to the king. We read what the king did in Daniel 6,

16 So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!” 17 A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel’s situation might not be changed.

During the night, the king was worried and quickly went to check on Daniel in the morning. When he called out to him,

21 Daniel answered, “May the king live forever! 22 My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.” 23 The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.

You face the same choice whether to trust in God as Daniel. Rarely is the choice presented to you so bluntly that someone asks you to pray to someone else as with Daniel, but you still face choices to follow God or not. Think of a situation you are in now that has you paralyzed by worry, fear, anxiety, etc. to move forward because going one way follows God, but will bring trouble with your spouse, parent, teacher, friend, coworker, etc. Or maybe you are drawing a blank with this kind of situation because you just go with the flow of an alter ego that speaks and acts very differently around Christians but joins in worshipping whatever the sinful world is fawning over. But when you do go the route Jesus spoke of with his disciples that comes with rejection and hatred, hearing Daniel’s situation may frustrate you as it seems God delivered him so quickly, just one night, from his trial for trusting in God without a scratch. Perhaps you want Daniel to be mauled a little so that his situation feels more like yours. You may picture Daniel getting lowered into the lion’s den on a padded bed wearing his Snuggie with Ugg slippers, and he sits petting the lions, filing their nails and watching them chase each other around like a viral cat video on social media. Not all situations are equal, but you can be sure that having lived almost 70 years as an exile and serving in a heathen foreign kingdom was difficult. And Daniel’s palms would have been sweaty when the stone covered the entrance to the cave leaving him in the darkness with the lions, even with the angel of God keeping their mouths closed. You like Daniel have dread, fear, anxiety, worry, questions, doubts when in trials because of your trust in God, waiting for him to deliver you and wondering if his deliverance will look like what you picture in your mind.

As with Daniel, God will deliver you. Daniel was in the lion’s den for trusting in God. One temptation from reading this account is to think that you must be strong like Daniel. Daniel does not point us to a list of his personality traits that kept him going, but to God. God is strong. God shut the mouths of the lions, not Daniel. God proved he is trustworthy to deliver you from your trials through situations like Daniel’s and others in the Old Testament. He is the same God who became man joining you in trials for trusting in God. Jesus faced many choices whether to follow God or not. He was tempted in the wilderness by the devil for 40 days and kept his trust in God. On many occasions he was welcomed as a king with the power to rule the world, but Jesus’ kingdom was not of this world. In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus while Jesus prayed, he knew he would not be delivered from death. Instead, Jesus endured death and hell on the cross to deliver us as we read in our New Testament reading from Romans 3,

25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

It was our weakness, our sin, our many times avoiding trusting God to get out of trials and joining with the sinful world that God punished Jesus for on the cross. Jesus atoned for us through his sacrifice meaning God poured out his anger on Jesus leaving God to be at peace with us. Our deliverance and peace are from God. Our faith and reason to trust God are also from God. As Daniel sat safely while God protected him, so you and I rest secure because God did the work to save us.

In your trials for trusting in God, God promises to be with you. When Jesus told his disciples about the trials they would face for their faith in him, he gave them hope as we read in our Gospel reading from Matthew 10, 19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. The disciples were not alone in their trials and did not only have the hope of eternal life in heaven to look forward to while standing trial. God also gave them the Holy Spirit who spoke through them so that others would know the one true God who saved all people. Daniel was a witness to the one true God so that even a heathen king praised God as we hear king Darius’ decree at the end of Daniel 6,

26 “I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. “For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. 27 He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.”

Your trials may not be like the disciples or Daniel, but you face trials for trust in the same God. As you consider the fear, worry, anxiety, stress, doubts that come with your trials for the sake of your trust in God along with the guarantee that you will in a time and way determined by God be delivered, praise God. Praise God with the same words as king Darius. Also, consider that someone watching and listening to you while you are going through trials gets to hear the Holy Spirit working through you. When you are in trials, dig even deeper into God’s Word. Consider the great blessing that others who hear you speak God’s Word may be brought to faith or strengthened in their faith. Even if the trial you go through is in your home in the upstairs room and the only one who sees and hears you cling to God is your spouse or child, praise God. He is strong enough to deliver you and others from trials and one day bring all of you home to heaven.

We have had lots of rain over the last few days. If only there was something that could protect us when it rains. There are things to protect you while you are in the rain, like an umbrella. Ask one another what particular storm you are in for your faith. Be honest about your trials and how it often feels easier to embrace worldly, popular sinful living, rather than trust in God through trials. Remind one another about Daniel and many others in the Bible whom God delivered. Remind one another about Jesus who followed God’s will through trials, death and hell on the cross to save us. We have this confidence that our Lord Jesus Christ lives and rules all things with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Trust God in trials to deliver you. Amen.

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