Me: Riley, do you want to invite Emery to your birthday party?
R: Can I invite all the kiddos?
Me: Which ones?
R: All of them?
Me: All who? Tell me the names.
R: All of them.
Me: All of them in the world?
R: Yes, all of them.
Me: I don't think all the kiddos in the world would fit into our house.
R: Yes, they would. If we clean up that mess (pointing to her toys), they would fit.
Me: Do you know how many kids there are in the world? So many. I think we'd need a really big castle.
R: Mommy, I want to tell you something. All the kiddos would fit in our house because they are all little. That's the rule.
Me: Oh really?
R: Yes. Do you understand?
Me: Hmmm... if you say so.
R: Good, because I was going to give you a time out if you didn't.----------------
I've been reading bible stories to Riley and, despite Daniel's cartoon smile and the cute fluffy, yellow lions in the picture, I've been thinking that sleeping overnight in a lion's den is not for the faint of heart. (Side note: are we doing a disservice to our children by simplifying and "padding" these stories so much that they look like an episode of Diego?)
|This is not the actual picture from Riley's book but it's close enough.|
Visualize right now going to the zoo, jumping over the railing where the lions are kept, wandering over to where they are sleeping, and sitting down.
Now imagine sitting there all night.
I'm fairly certain I would never have had the faith to jump over the rail in the first place. And the lions at the zoo are probably much more tame than what Daniel had to contend with.
Here is the thing, though. So often in life, we're thrown over a rail and pushed, involuntary, into our own lions den. All we want to do is cry out, "Please God, remove me from this den. I promise, I will do whatever you want. Please just get me out of here."
I admit that I tried bargaining with God when Reese died. Please God, I will do anything. Please just let this be a nightmare. Please just let me wake up tomorrow and it will have been a horrible, horrible nightmare. One I will never share with anyone because it is so horrific. Please, just tell me what you want me to do and I will. Anything.
But each morning, I would wake up and still be in the den.
I don't think God is into bargaining:
A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel’s situation might not be changed. Daniel 6:17
My friend Erin wrote a post this week to which I can really relate. I have had so many days ... still ... where I ask why me? Why? Why Reese? What did I do? Why do other mothers get to hold their warm, crying, wriggling babies while all I have to hold is a black and white picture? I don't understand. Please, I'm begging to understand.
Is it really fair to ask why me when there are so many people suffering daily from so many different challenges? 80 a day just in stillbirth alone. And that's just in the U.S. And that's just in a day. And that's just unborn babies. Since the beginning of time, millions of mothers have lost children - of all ages. Maybe hundreds of millions. Literally countless families have felt what I am feeling - maybe worse. And there will probably be hundreds of millions of more in the years to come.
To be honest, in some way, this is comforting and in some way, it just depresses me. Because sometimes I just want to cry out to God, what is the point?
So here is where I try to learn a little bit from Daniel.
At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?”
Daniel answered, “May the king live forever! My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.”
The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.
Daniel 6: 19-23
He prayed. He trusted. He believed in God's faithfulness and love.
Praying to be removed from the den is fruitless. It's the wrong prayer.
Praying for strength, hope, peace, understanding, love and faith to deal with (even do good with) all of the "lions" in my heart and mind that torment me every day - this is what I (try to) pray for now and this is the lesson I want to share with my children.
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. 1 John 5:14-15