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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, November 4, 2019  

Today’s Scripture Reading | Daniel 7:1–3, 15–18        

In the first year of King Belshazzar of Babylon, Daniel had a dream and visions of his head as he lay in bed. Then he wrote down the dream: I, Daniel, saw in my vision by night the four winds of heaven stirring up the great sea, and four great beasts came up out of the sea, different from one another.

As for me, Daniel, my spirit was troubled within me, and the visions of my head terrified me. I approached one of the attendants to ask him the truth concerning all this. So he said that he would disclose to me the interpretation of the matter: “As for these four great beasts, four kings shall arise out of the earth. But the holy ones of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever—forever and ever.” (NRSV)

Faith Today, the Bible study sponsored by the Center for Life and Learning, studied the book of Daniel last year. Members of the group took turns leading the study as we tried to apply the lessons of this ancient and mystical text to our everyday lives.

It was no small task. Daniel, filled with visions and dreams, not to mention fiery furnaces and lions’ dens, is weird. Interpretation takes effort; applications aren’t obvious.

The group’s commitment to the process, though, is one of the reasons why I count it as a great privilege to facilitate the group. Ordinary folks gather weekly—bringing our quirks and questions, belief and unbelief, subtlety and forthrightness, pain and pride—to consider what the heck might be going on in these lines.

We learned that Daniel often comes down to one main message, and this passage is a great example of it. The message? God is in charge. That does not negate all that is found in human experience, be it Daniel’s or ours. Political intrigue is rampant and confusing. Trying to discern what our lives are supposed to be about can be puzzling and sometimes terrifying. There is evil and injustice in the world; we can feel trapped and paralyzed by how insurmountable it seems. But we are not alone. God never abandons us and will provide help, often from quite unexpected places and people. Our job is to remember that and watch for the ways through which we can cooperate in God’s saving plans . . . and then to bless and thank God for the miracles of mercy, freedom, and righteousness.

“Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our mothers and fathers,
   praiseworthy and exalted above all forever;
and blessed is your holy and glorious name,
   praiseworthy and exalted above all for all ages.
Bless the God of gods, all you who fear the Lord;
   praise and give thanks
   because God’s mercy endures forever.” (Daniel 3:52, 90, New American Bible)

Written by Susan Quaintance, Director, Center for Life and Learning

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