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Daniel 6 is one of those sections of the Bible that if you grew up in church at all, you are probably familiar with the story. It is illegal to worship God, Daniel does anyway, and gets thrown into the lion’s den. Instead of being eaten by the lions, Daniel is miraculously saved, and the lions instead eat Daniel’s enemies in the morning, when they are thrown in after Daniel is brought out alive. The point: trust God, he can do miracles for those who trust him and are devoted even through danger.

While this is a wonderfully exciting and inspirational story for kids, we adults know that it doesn’t always happen that way. Sometimes, when you confess Jesus before the teenage classmate who holds a gun on you in the cafeteria, you get shot and die. Sometimes, you share Jesus in a country that is Muslim or Communist or for other reasons closed to Christianity, and you die. Sometimes, it is not literal death, but you are ostracized by your neighbors, co-workers, fellow parents at your kids sports events, because they find out you are a Christian, and attach their baggage to you. Sometimes your career in the public eye is ruined because saying what Jesus said isn’t popular today. You are tweeted to death, nevermore to rise. Sometimes…

Sometimes the angels do come in and save the day, the Christian is honored, the evil person either converted or neutralized, and God gets all the glory. But it is not a guarantee. If it was, might it be a little easier to share our faith? Might it be a little easier to stand up for those antiquated beliefs the Bible espouses?

Though I have read this story of Daniel probably dozens of times, something about Daniel still impresses me. Those jealous of Daniel could find no fault in him – “he was faithful and honest and always responsible” (6:4). That is why they had to attack his religion. I would love to have this said of me – that the only problem people have with me is that I live for God. Daniel’s life was such a witness, that the king was totally on his side, and when he was delivered, the king publicly glorified God. There was no question who had saved Daniel, no thought of coincidence, they knew it was God.

The Bible is pretty honest about it’s heroes and heroines, that they were flawed, even if ultimately they were declared righteous because of their faith in God. I didn’t read the whole book of Daniel just now, but I can’t think of any flaws attributed to him, which is pretty amazing considering that he lived in a country like ours, that didn’t have a godly culture. How could he be so faithful and honest and fearless? Because “he prayed three times a day, just as he had ALWAYS done, giving thanks to his God…and asking for God’s help” (6:10-11). That’s what I’ve been talking about the last few weeks. Pray often, thank God, and ask for God’s help. Keys to success.

I can’t think about this chapter without thinking how I would fare in such a scenario. Yet people in some parts of the world risk everything daily to worship Jesus, and others in America have to accept being unpopular in order to maintain their faith.

My prayer today goes out to the Christians in countries where they literally face death if it were known they were Christian. My prayer goes out to youth in high schools all over this country, who are trying to fit in, yet trying to live in a way that honors God, not having sex or cheating on tests or drinking or doing drugs. My prayer is for the lonely ones who have been waiting for a spouse and trying to maintain sexual purity in a very promiscuous world. My prayer is for those in toxic work environments, who are trying not to enter into the gossip, manipulation, and back-stabbing around them. My prayer is for all those who are trying to figure out how to be Christian in the world today, how to love and accept people – as Jesus did – loving everyone, no matter their current lifestyle – while trying to still stand up for truth and Biblical morality and values. Let Daniel be an inspiration that God can shut the mouths of those who would like to eat us alive, and that if we really truly follow him, we may not be delivered in the way we’d like, but we will be delivered into the very presence of God, and he will be with us every step of the way, through whatever lion’s dens and fiery furnaces we face.