Last week I was at a high school conference where we learned about the story of Daniel. Daniel is an interesting guy. He is one of the only people in the Bible, besides Jesus, where his mistakes aren’t recorded. Throughout his whole story Daniel is portrayed as an upright guy that is following God in the midst of some pretty hard circumstances. The book of Daniel is full of story after story of how Daniel stood up for what was right despite the imminent danger that it would cost him. This is where the story gets really interesting. Each time Daniel or his friends were faithful in the midst of danger God spared them. From a fiery furnace to a lions den, when they stood for what was right, God showed up and saved them.
I love this story because it shows God’s faithfulness and His love for His people. But it also presents a problem. Why is it that Daniel was spared so many times while others suffer for Christ daily? Why were the mouths of the lions shut for Daniel, but in my life it seems the mouths of the lions seem open and active?
If we are honest we all wonder this at some point in our lives. When we are subject to attacks, disease, suffering, brokenness, and the difficulties of life, the question comes up: why is God allowing this to happen?
I think the issue here isn’t why God isn’t saving us from our suffering. I think the issue is our definition on what victory is. We view victory as what we experience in this life. If we are honest we want God to save us from our life now, our pain and our troubles. But God views victory differently. God never promised us an easy life; in fact, He promised difficulties. But He did promise two things. He will always be with us, and we win in the end.
Victory in God’s definition is different than ours. The last night of the conference Shane Wood spoke. He summed it up like this. “Victory is not found when the mouths of the lions do not open. Victory is found when you exit the tomb alive.”
We got it backwards if we think victory is found only when the “lions” aren’t attacking. We need to expand our vision. Jesus knew He was going to suffer and die. But He willingly did so because He saw that victory was on the other side of the tomb, not in keeping the lions mouths shut.
Look, our lives can get difficult. Sometimes it seems like God has forgotten about us. At our lowest we think God cannot do anything about our circumstances. But our hope, our victory, doesn’t lie in those moments. Our hope, our victory, lies when we will walk out of our tomb alive.
I don’t know why some people seem to be spared from difficulty in this life. But I do know this: all who follow God will have victory on the other side of the tomb. This should change how we live this life. No longer should we be so concerned with our circumstances in this life. No longer should we live a life of fear. No longer should we play it safe. No longer should we be selfish. Our victory isn’t found there.
We should be boldly going out and loving on all those we come in contact with. We should be generously giving our time, money, and resources away for the benefit of the kingdom. Our victory is found when we confidently go out proclaiming that God saves. There are people so desperate for the hope that Jesus has to offer. But we are often too timid to go tell them because we think our victory is in this life. We think our victory is when the mouths of the lions are shut.
It’s time we start living in a manner that depicts where our true victory comes from. It’s time for us to go into all the world and proclaim God’s truth. Will the lions mouths be shut? Maybe, maybe not. But that doesn’t matter. Victory is not found when the mouths of the lions do not open. Victory is found when you exit the tomb alive.