January 19, 2014: Having Faith when Your World is Falling Apart

Posted on : Jan 16th, 2014 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

All of us have times in our lives when it feels like our world is falling apart.  Friends or loved ones die unexpectedly.  Relationships end.   Partners have affairs.  We’re diagnosed with cancer or some other medical condition.  We lose our job.  We finally own up to the fact that we’re addicted.  Or as one of our members recently experienced, after spending months painting his home, upgrading, and having new carpet installed, so it was in ready-to-sell condition, his world suddenly fell apart when an LA City sewer line clogged and caused a massive back up of sewage in his home.  Not surprisingly, the buyer backed out!

To survive such times takes faith; and one of the great examples of faith in God come from the Biblical character, “Daniel.”  The Book of Daniel is a collection of stories about having Faith in God and Keeping Faith in ourselves during some of the most difficult and “hopeless” times.  These stories give witness to the “struggles” or “challenges” of trusting God even when we feel like our life is out of control. Daniel’s ability to have faith in God is found in this portion of the story:

Darius (Ruler of Babylon) – one of the most ruthless rulers of all time from one of the most powerful nations on earth – rose very early the next morning and hurried to the lions’ den.  Drawing near to the lions’ den, Darius cried out to Daniel with anguish in his voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God!  Has the God whom you worship so constantly been able to save you from the lions?”  Daniel answered, “My God has sent an angel and closed the lions’ mouths so that they have not hurt me.”  Darius joyfully ordered Daniel to be removed from the den, unhurt, because Daniel trusted in God.

There are many times in our lives when it feels like we are about to be “eaten alive.” What is it about Daniel that gets him through these awful, desperate times in his life?  What is it about Daniel that he can be in the midst of chaos, yet remain calm?  What is it about Daniel that helps him survive dangers and threats to his life?  Lest you think the lions were not hungry, the story continues:

Darius joyfully ordered Daniel to be removed from the den, unhurt because Daniel trusted in God; then he ordered the officials who had accused Daniel, along with their spouses and children, to be cast into the lions’ den.  They had not reached the floor of the den before the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones.

According to Daniel, he survived his ordeal because of one thing – his faith in God.  Daniel’s story is a great place for us to begin our new worship series, “It Helps To Have Faith When…”  This Sunday we’ll focus on how it helps to have faith when our lives or our world is out of control.

Blessings,

Dan

 

~ This Sunday’s Scripture ~

Readings from the Psalms
and the writings of
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Daniel 6

The familiar story, though not-so-familiar context, of Daniel in the Lion’s Den.

[That night, Belshazzar, the ruler of the Chaldeans, was slain, and Darius, the Mede, took over the realm.]

Darius decided to appoint 100 nobles to be in charge of the realm.  Three chief ministers were appointed, and the nobles were to submit regular reports to them.  Daniel was one of the three ministers.  Daniel’s exceptional abilities outshone all the rest, and Darius wanted to place him in charge of the whole realm, but the other ministers grew jealous and began to look for some way to malign Daniel’s administration of the realm, but they couldn’t find any fault, since Daniel was completely responsible and trustworthy.  Since they could find no carelessness or deceit in Daniel, they said, “We’ll never find any reason to accuse this Daniel – unless it has to do with the law of his God!”

The ministers and nobles conspired together and came to Darius saying, “We believe that you should issue a decree with the following prohibition:  during the next thirty days, anyone who pays homage to any god or ruler other than you is to be thrown into the lion’s den.  If you would sign this document, the edict will become inalterable, for the law of the Medes and the Persians can never be revoked.”  So Darius signed the law.

Even after Daniel heard of the new law, he would go home, get on his knees and pray.  The windows in the upstairs room faced Jerusalem, and it was there that he praised God as he had always done.  Some nobles of Darius, the ruler of Babylon, entered the upstairs room of Daniel’s home and found him praying and pleading before God.

They then came to Darius to report that Daniel prayed three times a day to his God.  Darius was deeply grieved and wanted to exempt Daniel, but the officials insisted, saying, “Keep in mind that under Medean and Persian law, every royal probation or decree is irrevocable.   So Darius ordered Daniel to be cast into the lion’s den.  But Darius said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you worship so constantly, save you!”

Darius returned to the palace but didn’t sleep all night and refused food or entertainment.  As the day broke, he went to the lion’s den and cried out to Daniel with anguish in his voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God!  Has the God whom you worship so constantly been able to save you from the lions?”

Daniel answered, “O Darius, ruler of Babylon, may you live forever!  My God has sent an angel and closed the lions’ mouths so that they have not hurt me.  For I have been found innocent before the Most High.  Nor have I ever done any harm to you, my ruler!”

Darius joyfully ordered Daniel to be removed from the den, unhurt because Daniel trusted in God; then he ordered the officials who had accused Daniel, along with their spouses and children, to be cast into the lions’ den.  They had not reached the floor of the den before the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones.  Then Darius, ruler of Babylon, wrote this proclamation:  “To the nations and people of every language, wherever they dwell on earth:  May you always have peace and abundance!  I decree that throughout my realm the God of Daniel is to be revered and worshiped.

For God is the living God, enduring forever,
Whose realm will not be destroyed,
And whose dominion will be without end!
God is a deliverer and a Savior,
Working signs and wonders in heaven and on earth,
And delivering Daniel from the lions’ power.”

Prosperity followed Daniel during Darius’ reign, and that of Cyrus the Persian.

Leave a Reply