Devotional Thought fo the Day:
26 “Blessed are you, and praiseworthy, O Lord, the God of our ancestors, and glorious forever is your name. 27 For you are just in all you have done; all your deeds are faultless, all your ways right, and all your judgments proper. 28 You have executed proper judgments in all that you have brought upon us and upon Jerusalem, the holy city of our ancestors. By a proper judgment you have done all this because of our sins; 29 For we have sinned and transgressed by departing from you, and we have done every kind of evil. 30 Your commandments we have not heeded or observed, nor have we done as you ordered us for our good. NABRE Daniel 3:26-30
481 Take a good look at the way you behave. You will see that you are full of faults that harm you and perhaps also those around you. Remember, my child, that microbes may be no less a menace than wild beasts. And you are cultivating those errors and those mistakes—just as bacteria are cultivated in a laboratory—with your lack of humility, with your lack of prayer, with your failure to fulfill your duty, with your lack of self-knowledge… Those tiny germs then spread everywhere. (1)
Perhaps I had read the Bible passage in red as a child, as I grew up in the Catholic Church. I know I haven’t recently, for I usually use protestant (evangelical) translations of Scripture, which have a few differences in the Book of Daniel. The passage has been there, and Luther quotes it several times. I have to admit, as I read it – I came to love it, it resonated deeply and pointed me to Jesus.
I find it remarkable, as the three men are sitting in a furnace, and they are heating it up, that they pray in this way. Their prayer doesn’t start with calls for vengeance, or even a call for deliverance. They aren’t calling God to blast their enemies.
It starts with their confession – and the acknowledgment that God has every right to punish them for how they turned their backs on Him.
In the midst of their trauma, in the midst of being tortured and persecuted, the three men turn to God and admit they are guilty, and God has every right to punish them. They even recognize that the commandments are for their good, to guide them in life that is lived well and full.
They didn’t obey; their people didn’t obey.
They deserved God’s judgment, and they recognized it.
So they turned to God, confessed their sins and depended upon His character, His mercy, His love. Assured of His mercy, the second hymn will be a joyous song of praise – sung in the presence of the Son of God.
How we need this spirit to be replicated in us today. That when oppressed or persecuted, when struggling we recognize that we deserve much worse, (this is our confession) we are then encouraged to depend on the mercy of God to deliver us ( the sermon), and then have a celebration in the presence of the Son of God (isn’t this what communion really is?)
Rather than striking out at those we perceive to be our enemies. Rather than calling down God’s wrath upon them, rather than trying to justify ourselves, what if our first reaction was to pray that we be forgiven. What kind of joy would come from this? What sense of serenity found in Christ Jesus? To be rid of the germs our guilt and shame, and the beam that blocks the vision.
What an incredible prayer (I highly suggest reading the entire thing) What an incredible statement of dependence on God, and the effect of it on life.
May we learn to pray and worship this way…even in the midst of the fire…
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 1834-1838). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.