Not consumed by violence

A Christian Science perspective on daily life

There's a lot I'm unsure of, but I am sure of this. It wasn't mere chance or good luck that brought Daniel through his famous night of imprisonment. It wasn't a knack for getting along or a gift for animal husbandry that the rest of us have yet to learn. It was more than that.

Was it something divine at work that went beyond human knowledge and skill and that reshaped the outcome for the better?

I ask myself this as I ponder his story in the Scriptures. I think of captives today facing horrific possibilities. And I remember the power behind this biblical account. Does the power that rewrote the likely-tragic ending of Daniel's story still resolve conflict, still neutralize violence, still write better endings for people today?

Consider how highly regarded Daniel was. "An excellent spirit was in him," says the Bible, and, "he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him" (Dan. 6:3, 4).

He knew how to behave faithfully, even faultlessly, in his job and personal life. But this wasn't enough to keep him out of the lions' den. It may have even fed the jealousy of others in the kingdom who then wanted him fed to lions. But I wonder. If his good human abilities didn't keep him safe – and in one sense maybe even had brought him into jeopardy – then what did keep him safe? Wasn't it God's nature and presence and power that kept him from being consumed by violence?

Wasn't that what caused this unexpectedly bloodless resolution? Look at what Daniel understood, summed up in his words to the king who came early to the den, yearning to find him alive. Daniel said, "My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt" (Dan. 6:22).

Did Daniel grasp something of the Almighty's nature and presence? He apparently knew God's protecting power was never deficient, never arrived too late, couldn't be in force too briefly, caring for a time, but then expiring, leaving innocent people to fend for themselves without divine aid.

Was his understanding of God's presence more than enough to deflect potential violence from swallowing him up? "God ... hath shut the lions' mouths." Of course, even though the lions were the immediate threat, they weren't the real source of danger. Those who wanted Daniel dead had their mouths – that is, their jealousy, their hatred, their thirst for blood – shut. Even when Daniel was encircled by danger, the Almighty was on the scene. And His solutions were more empowering than hate, more motivating than fanaticism, more embracing than factionalism.

Throughout the Bible, glimpses of God's love shine through. He is Love, unconditional and unending. And His love for His offspring is unrelenting in its protecting power. His love impels all the deliverance that occurs at His hands. You see that as a loving God, He delivers from famine to plenty, danger to safety, illness to well-being, and captivity to freedom.

Daniel experienced the delivering power of divine Love. And he acknowledged it to others. Not only was he spared from harm, he showed how others could be, too.

He showed that we, too, can be delivered to safety. His story holds a message that the divine power is a power greater than all others. It's a power sufficient to neutralize violence and resolve what seems unresolvable. No heinous act is ever divinely sanctioned. No circumstance is ever beyond God's reach.

The key is to prayerfully insist on His power to halt violence and usher in peace.

Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy wrote: "The power of God brings deliverance to the captive. No power can withstand divine Love" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 224). This fact, known in prayer, blesses victims and brings them safely home more often.

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