And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions? Daniel 6:20
It was a rhetorical question; the type you use when you are teaching a class to emphasize a point that might otherwise slip unnoticed through the hearts and minds of your students.
“Can G_d still deliver during times of need today?”
But this morning I actually chose the question for another reason. Reading the verse quoted above out loud for the first time, despite the time and effort spent in a comprehensive study of the chapter, brought sudden memories boiling into my consciousness from a time long ago where that same question could have been leveled squarely in my direction. The moment the ancient words from King Darius left my lips overwhelmed me, and I needed time to compose myself while I fought to hold back tears.
I pretended I had something in my eye even as the question was met with a resounding ‘Amen!’ from the majority of the class, accompanied by smiles and generally good feelings all around. After all, He certainly can deliver when needed.
These are fearless answers from a safe distance—a Talladega faith travelling on a narrow, forty-mile-an hour county road. But there is another light for asking this question and it is one we do not like to talk about. Ask about deliverance to one who stands before an open casket regretfully saying goodbye to a loved one. Ask them if He can deliver a broken, disheartened soul in those moments. The boss calls a meeting in his office and begins the conversation with “I regret to inform you” and it goes downhill from there. Standing in the unemployment line with thoughts of mortgage payments and insurance skating across your consciousness, you find yourself asking the question, “Is He able to deliver me?” What is the answer when put forth in a courtroom, as a marriage is dissolved and the lawyers haggle over details for child support and visitation rights? The doctor frowns and states, “I don’t like what I’m seeing in your x-rays, we need to schedule some further tests.” A spouse is confronted with the unthinkable: “We’ve drifted apart and I no longer love you.” Can He still deliver from the lions in these situations?
The question may burn, but it burns to be answered.
No matter how secure we think we are in this life, the truth is we are merely a heartbeat away from our own proverbial lion’s den. Life is hard. Life is tough. We live in a fallen world among other sinful descendents of Adam and Eve. It’s bound to get messy or even… worse.
The surety of Darius that Daniels’ G_d could deliver in verse 16 was not so certain later that night when the proof was in the pudding. Likewise a ‘sunny day answer’ pales during our own dark, sleepless nights when our faith is tested by troubles and trials that will still be there—only bigger—when morning’s light finally (mercifully?) arrives. And we long for the answer in the same manner, with our own familiar and lamentable cry: “Is my G_d able to deliver me?”
As I write this from my living room, a comforting flame emanates from the fireplace and the dogs lay curled listlessly under my chair. Outside the temperature has dropped and I’m alone tonight; but there is nothing to fear here. I am safe and warm. Divine deliverance, though much appreciated, is not searched for nor needed in this comfortable hour even though, right now, I am certain it is and always will be there.
I find myself writing in a mindset not unlike Darius before he regretfully gave the command to execute Daniel’s sentence and cast him into the lion’s den. “Thy G_d whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee.” This is a statement of fact as sure as water is wet and ice is cold—the G_d we serve can and will deliver us.
The winds of change have begun to blow across our nation, and the breeze is beginning to build into the ides of something possibly much more sinister looming just over the horizon. We face an uncertain future, all of us. Now is the time to be thinking, to be making sure in our own hearts, because Darius’ question will be asked soon enough to all of us and we’ll need to trust in our very own answer:
Is He able to deliver us?