"Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before." Daniel 6:10b (NIV)
Have you ever been in a pit? Recently, I was. And you know what pits make me feel besides frustrated and down? Hungry.
Usually my pit comes when circumstances roll into my life that I can't control.
Circumstances that affect me, but that are beyond my control, make me want to find comfort in things I can control. And eating sure does feel like an easy way to get comfort.
But in these situations, what feels comforting going in my mouth doesn't settle well in my heart.
Overindulging in junk food makes me feel guilty. And once guilty joins me in my pit, it only compounds my issues. So, if we can't eat our way out of a pit with junk food, what can we do?
If I'm truly hungry, I can grab a healthy option. Then, I intentionally look for something for which to be thankful and get my mouth busy praising God.
Even though I may not feel like praising God in the midst of my pit, something starts to shift in my heart and in my attitude when I see blessings in the midst of burdens. Each thing for which I verbalize my thankfulness is like a stepping stone out of the pit.
And this isn't just my idea. It's biblical. Look what happened when Daniel took this approach to the pit he found himself in.
In Daniel 6:10, Daniel had just learned that if anyone was caught praying to anyone else besides King Darius, they would be thrown into the lion's den. That's a serious pit! But Daniel's reaction is amazing.
He went home, threw his windows open, and prayed anyway. I'm not thinking he did this because he felt good. I'm imagining he felt like anyone would feel in overwhelming circumstances. But he rose above his feelings to make a choice.
And do you know what he chose to pray?
"God, save me!"
"God, it's not fair!"
"God, this is too much!"
"God, smite my enemies and wipe them out!"
"God, You know I can't handle this without extreme doses of chocolate!"
No. None of the above.
What Daniel prayed is a powerful lesson for me.
Daniel 6:10b tells us that Daniel spoke prayers of gratitude. "Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before."
Since Daniel's response is so opposite of the way most of us would react, it makes me stop and ponder. Our initial responses are usually a by-product of the rituals we've established in our life. Daniel had made it his habit to be thankful.
Since Daniel was a thankful man, God's nature and how He provides was front and center in Daniel's heart—even in the midst of uncontrollable circumstances.
I am challenged and inspired by Daniel's response. It makes me ask questions like: where do I run when life presses in on me? Who or what am I really dependent on? Do I have a habit of inviting guilt to join me in my pit? What might happen if I stopped grabbing for comfort and instead embraced the perspective changer of thanksgiving?
Life will be full of pits. But, that doesn't mean I have to be a pit dweller. Or a pit eater.
Dear Lord, I know I will sometimes find myself in a pit. But I don't have to stay there and I don't have to try to eat my way out. Thank You for providing Your timeless Word to point to the way, the truth and the life. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
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Reflect and Respond:
Ask yourself these 3 questions:
Where do I run when life presses in on me?
Who or what am I really dependent on?
Do I have a habit of inviting guilt to join me in my pit?
Hebrews 12:28, "Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe." (NIV)
Colossians 3:15, "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful." (NIV)