Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Give Thanks … Even When You’re Attacked

 “He rescues and He saves; He performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth.”
– Daniel 6:27

Two friends met on the street one day. One looked really sad, so his friend asked, “What has the world done to you, my old friend?” The sad fellow said, “Three weeks ago, my uncle died and left me forty thousand dollars. And two weeks ago, a cousin I never even knew died and left me eighty-five thousand dollars, free and clear.”

His friend responded: “Wow! That’s a lot of money. Sounds to me like you’ve been very blessed.” But the first man responded, “You don’t understand! Last week my great-aunt passed away. I inherited almost a quarter of a million from her.”

Now the man’s friend was really confused. He asked, “Then why do you look so glum?”

He responded: “Because this week—I haven’t gotten anything!”

Being thankful is a choice. You can choose to be grateful for the quarter million dollars God blessed you with last week, or you can choose to gripe and complain about the hundred bucks He didn’t give you this week. Being thankful is a command of Scripture. But like every other command, it requires a conscious choice. And in one of the most famous stories in the Bible, Daniel shows us how to be thankful—even when we’re under attack.

By Daniel 6, Daniel was a respected leader who had served under a series of Babylonian kings. When Babylon was overthrown by Persia, King Darius came into power. Darius appointed 120 satraps, or governors, to rule throughout the kingdom. He also appointed three administrators over them, one of whom was Daniel. Verse 3 tells us, “Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps … that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom.” The other two administrators and the satraps were deeply jealous—and they wanted him dead.

So, they cooked up a law to trap Daniel. They couldn’t find any flaws in his conduct, so their only shot was to scheme up something religious. They knew Daniel was a man of prayer. Every day, three times a day, he went to his upstairs room, opened the windows and knelt to pray and give thanks to God. So, the two other administrators and some of the satraps went to the king and flattered Darius as they proposed an order: “Anyone who prays to any god or man during the next thirty days, except for you, O king, shall be thrown into the lions’ den” (v.7). Somehow, King Darius fell for it, and he put the decree in writing.

What did Daniel do after he learned about the law aimed squarely at his faith in the One True God? He could have gone into hiding for a month. He could have closed his windows and prayed silently. But he didn’t. Daniel went home, and “three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before” (v. 10). Because Daniel was so consistent, his enemies easily caught him red-handed.

When they reported him, King Darius was devastated—but his hands were tied, because a law of the Persians could never be revoked. Even as Daniel was tossed him the lions’ den, Darius said: “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!” (v. 16). The ONLY way Daniel wouldn’t be mauled to death would be if His God worked a miracle and closed the mouths of the hungry lions.

We know how the story turns out. At sunrise, the king rushed to the lions’ den. When he called down into the pit, Daniel answered: “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” (v. 22). And King Darius issues a decree that contains one of the most beautifully concise descriptions of God in the whole OT: “He is the living God and He endures forever; His kingdom will not be destroyed, His dominion will never end. 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.”

I’d like to offer you three steps from Daniel 6 to help you stay thankful when you’re under attack:

Step #1: Keep calm, and take your concerns to God (v. 10). When Daniel first found out that his critics had set a trap that would likely get him killed, he didn’t blow a gasket. He didn’t fly off in a rage. He didn’t hunt down his accusers and give them a piece of his mind. He didn’t even post a rant on Facebook. He simply went home and carved out some one-on-one time with God.

Step #2: Remember that God hasn’t changed (v. 10). So, give thanks to God, just as you’ve done before. When you are criticized, God is no less worthy of your praise and thanks than He was before you were criticized. There’s nothing your critics can say or do that changes who God is. God is good. God is just. God is compassionate. God is a faithful Provider. And He is always, always worthy of your thanks and praise.

Step #3: As long as you’re not doing it in a self-serving way, express your thankfulness to God openly. Notice that Daniel didn’t close his mouth OR his windows when he was commanded to stop giving thanks to God. He prayed with his windows open BEFORE the law was passed, and he prayed with his windows open AFTER the law was passed. And when he was sitting in the lions’ den and Darius asked if he was okay, he took the opportunity to give thanks to God again in earshot of the king and everyone else who was listening.

I think it’s a shame when we have a lot to thank God for, and we keep it to ourselves. Let’s not do that! Let’s be very vocal expressing our thanks to God.

Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church in Victorville. Pastor Dane’s latest book (“Called to Persevere: One Man’s Journey to Overcome Pain, Disease and Disappointment with God”) is NOW available at Amazon. For more information, visit www.GreaterImpact.cc or www.Called2Persevere.com.

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