Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“A text of Scripture penned by the Apostle Paul to the members of the church in Corinth, speaking about the churches of Macedonia.”
“For in the midst of an ordeal of severe tribulation, their abundance of joy and their depth of poverty have overflowed in wealth of lavish generosity on their part.”
II Corinthians 8:2
“Joy is not gush; Joy is not jolliness. Joy is simply perfect acquiescence in God’s will, because the soul delights itself in God Himself, ‘I delight to do Thy will,’ said Jesus, though the cup was the Cross, in such agony as no (person) knew. It cost Him blood. Oh, take the Fatherhood of God in the blessed Son the Savior, and by the Holy Ghost, rejoice in the will of God, and nothing else. Bow down your heads and your hearts before God, and let the will, the blessed will of God be done.”
“’Joy and deep poverty,’ Truly strange blending.
Fullness and emptiness! Contrasting themes.
Spiritual richness and temporal leanness
None but the Spirit could wed such extremes.
‘Joy and deep poverty!’ Servant of Jesus,
Doth it perplex that thy portion is this? Doth it offend that reward for thy faithfulness
Seemeth to lie much in things thou must miss?
‘Joy and deep poverty!’ Pause thee, and ponder!
Joy for thy spirit – the world cannot give;
If therewith leanness – extreme limitations
Mayhap – ‘tis by even such need thou shalt LIVE!”
J. Danson Smith
Today’s Study Text:
“Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions.”
“Earthly Power Versus Heavenly Purpose” Part 25
“The Den of Despair”
“Yes, though I walk through the deep, sunless valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me.”
Psalm 23 4
Have I ever felt that an experience in my life left me in the den of despair?
What has gotten me through the times of despair which I have encountered?
Have I ever wondered why it is that God’s most faithful seem to often be God’s most tried?
“It is impossible for that (person) to despair who remembers that their Helper is omnipotent (has infinite power!)”
“Think not thou canst sigh a sigh,
And thy Maker is not by;
And thy Maker is not near.
Oh, He gives to us His joy,
That our grief He may destroy.
Till our grief is fled and gone
He doth sit by us and moan.”
He had tried everything he knew to try. And now all King Darius was left with was an assembly of raging presidents and princes, reminding him that even he could not change the laws of the Medes and Persians once they had become the rule of the land.
I wonder how many times King Darius wanted to kick himself for being so rash and so easily persuaded by those who appeared to want to honor him.
And then, there was his trusted confidant standing in front of him. Daniel the true and loyal. Daniel the wise and prudent. I just have a feeling that there were few words that passed between the king and Daniel. What does one say to a faithful friend that you have betrayed by your own arrogance.
But if we draw closer to this scene and put ourselves in the place of Daniel, whose faithful behavior was now going to cost him his life, what do you think we would say to our heavenly Father at this moment of darkness. How do you communicate with your Father in heaven when the road ahead is shut away by the fog of the unknown?
In her wonderful book of prayer/poems, Keep Me Faithful, author Ruth Harms Calkin takes a stab into the darkness with her expressive pen:
In The Darkness
“O my Lord
I am slowly beginning to see
That I must listen to You
In the darkness
Instead of desperately
Pleading for light.
I am beginning to sense
That darkness is not always
An indication of my failure
Or of Your displeasure.
Rather it is an indication
Of Your outstretched arms
Waiting to hold me
Close, close to Your heart.
Darkness, which so often
Seems to be a reason
For fear and despair
May be in Your plan, dear God.”
In the blunt language of The Message Bible, a clear picture is painted of King Darius’ response when he realized not only his mistake but the dastardly deed which was cooked up by his own appointed rulers: “The king was very upset and tried his best to get Daniel out of the fix he’d put him in. He worked at it the whole day long. But when the conspirators were back…the king caved in and ordered Daniel brought and thrown into the lion’s den” (Daniel 6: 23, 24).
The Bible doesn’t go into a lot of detail about this “den” but we do know that it was filled with ferocious lions, hungry for a meal. And if everything had gone according to plan, Daniel’s enemies had solved their problem! No more Daniel!
Maybe you’ve found yourself facing some type of dark den of despair in your own life. A place where God’s presence doesn’t seem to reach you. A place where darkness and silence rule the day. And alone you stand. All the props are gone. The decree has been signed. And the lions are roaring. And you can’t see anyone who will come to your aid. Where do you go? What do you do?
It has given me pause at times in my own life, when immense trials have arisen and I’ve found myself trembling in a place of dark despair, to recall to my mind the lives of some of God’s most faithful children who cried out for their beacon of hope to shine His light upon their darkest hour. As author Luci Shaw so beautifully expresses in her book, The Crime of Living Cautiously, “Perhaps in the desperation of a seemingly dead-end situation, (or when you find yourself in a den of lions!), our only recourse is to batter against the door of our fear, disbelief and inability, discovering to our surprise that it opens with the golden key of the prayer of faith.”
As the Apostle Paul told his dear Christian friends at the church in Corinth: “We are hedged in; pressed on every side; troubled and oppressed in every way, but not cramped or crushed; we suffer embarrassment and are perplexed and unable to find a way out, but not driven to despair. We are pursued, persecuted and hard driven, but not deserted to stand alone; we are struck down to the ground, but never struck out and destroyed…For our light, momentary affliction is ever more and more abundantly preparing for us an everlasting weight of glory, beyond all measure, excessively surpassing all comparisons, a vast and transcendent glory and blessedness never to cease!” II Corinthians 4: 8, 9, 17
Never forget, those “outstretched arms, waiting to hold you close, close to His heart.”
“From the depths of my despair I call to you, Lord. Hear my cry, O Lord; listen to my call for help!”
A Prayer of Desperation
“God, how much more can I stand?
Help me, Lord, help me to keep my
sanity and my strength, God,
please take some of these interminable
problems from me.
Disperse them, deal with them through
some other channel.
Surely I have been used enough.
Surely I have been pursued and caught
and used enough.
There is not much left.
Lord, restore me. Give me strength.
But, oh, release me for a little while too.
Please give me a respite from these problems.”
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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