The powerful story recorded in the Hebrew Bible about the results of Daniel's fearlessness and faith calls to us. This is a message that needs to be remembered as we navigate our way through today's maze of highly orchestrated efforts to keep us fearful and to have fear lead us instead of the faith that fearfulness is unnecesary.
Some of you will remember the marvelous story about Daniel who was thrown into the den of lions because he refused to cease his praying during the time that bowing to anyone other than the king was banned. The administrators in King Darius' kingdom were filled with jealousy of Daniel because of his integrity and the favor that he had with the King. They went to the king and got him to make the decree and suggested that anyone who disobeyed it should be thrown into the lions den. But "when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to this upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before" (Daniel 6:10 NIV).
As one might expect, the ones who were against Daniel in the first place went quickly to King Darius to report his disobedience to the royal order. But when the king heard that he had disobeyed him, he was in great distress. He wanted to save Daniel but was bound by the law that he had decreed.
"So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions' den." The king was restless throughout the night and at the first light of dawn, he hurried to the lions' den to inquire of Daniel whether or not his God had saved him. To the king's great surprise, Daniel answered, "O, king live forever! 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" (Daniel 6:21-22 NIV).
Though these words from the Bible can be viewed in many ways, one of the ways that I have found helpful is to take them as an offering for inner guidance. When we think about our personal thoughts and the fears that can be generated in our heads by some of those thoughts, it is easy to comapre that to the accusers of Daniel. Of course our inner accusers can be more difficult to manage than outer ones at times, because we are not always able to correctly identify them and they can get quite a foothold upon us. When this happens it is very easy to lose our sense of grounding and we can quickly become overwhelmed and unable to turn our faces away from the fear to the source of hope.
As soon as Daniel heard the king's decree, he went to his upstairs room to pray with his windows opened wide toward Jersusalem. When fear is being touted by all and every message is one about all of the reasons to have fear and no hope, we can rise above it and we can turn our face away from it to the sources of hope and courage that we have sought in times past. We can seek a higher consciousness as is symbolized by Daniel going upstairs. When we move to this higher level of thinking and reach out to God and employ all of the skills that we have for connecting to something other than fear and its vampires, we can shift our energy from fear to fearlessness. Of course there is too little in our present day culture to help with this process beause fear is so pervasive.
As we move closer to the holiday season with all of the economic and political challenges that are before us, it will take courage to maintain balance and not to allow the troubles to rule us. Fear is truly a vampire and it will take the energetic life from anyone who does not learn to stand against it in whatever way is possible. One of the best ways to manage fear is to replace it with positive thoughts and actions and then to act as if it doesn't exist. This is the strong message from Daniel as he proceeded to pray though a decree that had come from the king. There is much to be said for choosing to see beyond the circumstances of the moment to a higher set of ideas or hope.
While it is challenging to have hope in these times, it is necessary to look beyond the maze and try to grasp the spiritual significance surrounding the things that are happening and then to allow that awareness and the energy it generates to become a part of our everyday lives. Daniel demonstrates that the faithful practice of prayer will reinforce our faith and help to give us the ability to confront the inner and outer lions without being harmed.