What if He doesn't shut the lion's mouth?
It was time.
Looking back, I can see how God, as only He can, had prepared me. He had taught me lessons, allowed me to practice, and then built on the foundation, all the while keeping me blissfully unaware of what was coming. But now, it was time for a cumulative test.
The morning of, I woke sick with dread, knowing what was in store. I wanted to ball up in a fetal position and bury under the weight and safety of my comforter. Instead, God prompted me with a simple verse: “This is the day I have made. Rejoice and be glad.” (Psalm 118:24) Rejoice? On this day? Yes--with Him as my Comforter.
That afternoon, I poured myself out in tears and anguish. The weight of what was to come was heavy. Words from Queen Esther, “If I die, I die,” hit me square in the heart. (Esther 4:16) “Help me do what you require. Help me obey. Help me stand firm in Truth,” I prayed.
That evening, I remembered the familiar story of Daniel and the lion’s den. “That’s where I am headed,” I thought as I left the safety of my home. There was no denial. I desperately pleaded with God to close the lions’ mouths, to preserve the work I knew He had started. But then, these words tumbled from my lips: “Even if you don’t close their mouths, I will still believe you are good. I will still believe you are faithful. I will still believe you are sovereign.”
That night, the lions roared.
The aftermath of the lions’ den was messy and complex. My body was intact, but my heart was shredded. In a way, I was in shock. I didn’t understand the plan. I was confused. But I knew what I needed to do. In grief, I got down on my knees, tears streaming, and proclaimed that God was still good, still faithful and still sovereign.
No matter if the circumstance is mine or yours, God is always the final standard of good no matter our human expectations. It is written, “You are good and do good; teach me your statutes.” (Psalm 119:68) Perhaps it is easy, natural even, to proclaim those words when life feels smooth. But that’s not the context of this verse. Prior to the proclamation that God is good, the psalmist explains that before being afflicted, he was bent on straying. After affliction, he was committed to the authority of God’s word.
Lions’ den moments have a way of teaching and shaping that ease and comfort do not. Affliction can leave us bitter and resentful or humble and teachable. The psalmist displays the latter. The psalmist’s obedience increased, and he praised the Lord in all his goodness.
No matter the circumstance, God will always do what he says. His promises cannot fail. He will always act in accordance with His nature--and His nature is to be faithful to his promises. Moses writes this of God, “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?” (Numbers 23:19)
Lions’ den moments test our loyalties. Will we return to fear and flesh, or submit to God and His plan? Will we believe that as heirs in Christ, we must suffer with him? (Romans 8:17) God has no wayward deeds. He does no wrong. He is absolutely just and completely faithful.
No matter the circumstance, God remains in control. Think of Job. He was in the middle of a battle, and the lions’ mouths were open wide. The enemy was allowed to draw his weapon, aim and fire. Job’s response? He arose, tore his robe, shaved his head, fell to the ground and worshipped, saying, “Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:20-21)
Lions’ den moments come with a choice--worship God or curse him. In the testing of Job, Satan’s goal was to get Job to curse his creator. In our own lions’ den moments, Satan’s goal is the same. Let us not be the type of believer Charles Spurgeon so aptly describes: “Surely it has not come to this among God’s people, that He must do as we like, or else we will not praise Him. If He does not please us every day, and give way to our whims, and gratify our tastes, then we will not praise Him.”
Rather, let us “consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18)
Let us believe God is good, God is faithful and God is sovereign even when He doesn’t shut the lions’ mouths.