Meeting the Lions!
Charles Naylor, 1920
The Bible recounts some interesting stories of lions. They are interesting, not simply because they are stories of animals, but because there are things in connection with them from which we may draw some very striking lessons.
We all remember the story of Daniel — how he was cast into the den of lions, and how during the long watches of the night he sat there in their den unharmed. What was expected to be the tragedy of his life proved to be his most glorious victory. The expected triumph of his enemies was turned into their utter defeat — and Daniel, stronger and more courageous than ever, came forth to continue his service to God.
Samson too had an experience with a lion. As he was going along the road one day he met a lion, and it attacked him. He had no weapons — yet he met it courageously. We are told that "The Spirit of the LORD came upon him in power so that he tore the lion apart with his bare hands as he might have torn a young goat." Some time later he was passing that way and found that a swarm of bees had entered the dried carcass of the lion and made their abode there, and he took of the honey and went on his way.
In the thirteenth chapter of 1 Kings we find another lion story. Here a prophet sent of God went to Samaria and prophesied as God had commanded him, and according to the commandment he started back on his way to Judea. God had told him not to eat or drink there, but to go back immediately by a different way from that by which he came. He started to obey, but sat down to rest by the wayside. While he was here, another prophet came and persuaded him to go back and dine with him. Then, as he went upon his way, a lion met him and slew him.
The lions of these stories may be likened to our trials. We meet trials every now and then in life, and some of them seem very much like lions. They seem very threatening and very dangerous. Sometimes we try to run away from a trial, but as surely as we do, we meet another in the pathway in which we go.
We are certain to have trials. The important thing is that we meet them properly. Some people imagine that if they live as they should — that they will not trials. But trials often come, when it is no fault of ours. Daniel was not thrown into the lions' den because he had not lived right or because he had been unfaithful in something. No, it was his faithfulness that resulted in his meeting the lions.
It will be that way in our lives. If we are true and loyal to God, that very loyalty is sure to bring us trials sometimes. Daniel had his choice in the matter. He could have been disloyal and escaped the lions — but he chose rather to be loyal and take the full consequences, whatever they might be. God wants you and me to dare to be Daniels too. He does not want us to swerve an inch from the truth in order to evade any sort of trial. If we are true, and as a result of that trueness a great trial like being thrown into a den of lions comes upon us, and every earthly hope seems shut off, and there is no help from anywhere — then what shall we do? Despair? Ah, no! God will send his angel and shut the lion's mouth for us, just as he did for Daniel. Dare to be true. God will stand by you even in the most trying and desperate hour.
It was not a test of his standing true, that brought Samson face to face with the lion. He met the beast just by accident. He got into the trouble unwittingly. He had no expectation of it whatever — but the first thing he knew, he was face to face with it. That is just the way it happens with us sometimes — we get into a trial without any seeming reason for it; we are not expecting anything of the kind.
If the prophet in Samaria had gone in the way that God commanded him — then he would not have met the lion that slew him. It was his disobedience that caused the trouble. Sometimes when we are in trials, we realize that it is our own fault that we are tried. Sometimes we may be disobedient, sometimes we may be careless, sometimes it may be this or that — but whatever it is, we realize that it is our own fault. That makes the trial harder to bear.
But however trials come, whatever is their cause — we must meet them. We have no choice in the matter. The important thing is to meet them right.
Daniel knew that he had done right and pleased God; and, furthermore, he met his trial with a calm peace and full assurance that God would take care of him, and God did take care of him, and he came through the trial. He was peaceful through the trial and triumphant after it, because God was his helper.
Someone has said that our trials make or mar us. This is true. Either we come out of them stronger than we went in — or we come out of them weaker. We have either joy or sorrow from them. We should meet our trials as Samson met the lion. Face them boldly. Do not run or shrink. If you seem to have no adequate weapon to use against them, trust in God and meet them boldly anyway. That is the way Samson did, and do you remember what happened? Why, after a while he got honey out of the carcass.
Do you want honey out of your trials? You would rather have that than bitterness. Well, you may have the honey if you will face the trial and overcome it. Conquer in the name of Christ. Do not whimper or whine. Do not lament or murmur. Do not fear or tremble. Face your trials boldly, and the Spirit of the Lord will come mightily upon you as it did upon Samson, and you will conquer. And then, ah, it is then that the sweetness will come — after you have mastered the trial, in the days that follow, sweetness will come, and you will bless God that he ever permitted you to be so severely tried.
Conflict must always precede victory. The lion must be killed before the bees can build the honeycomb in the carcass. So face your trials boldly and overcome them. Then you may taste the sweets of victory. This is the only way, and you are not too weak to take this way. God has promised that he will not allow you to be tempted above what you are able to bear. If you will believe it and do your part — then God will do his, and you will triumph.