And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions? Daniel 6:20
Recently, I was feeling very overwhelmed with the busyness of a large family. Fall always tends to be a difficult time for me. We just came through another busy harvest season—canning, freezing, preserving—and there are still more projects to finish before winter sets in. Additionally, there is the start of another school year. We are a home-schooling family and this year we will have five children in school. On top of that, we have had numerous recent appointments to attend, with the dentist, eye doctor, orthodontist, and doctor. Even today, I need to take one of our daughters to the dentist because one of her fillings fell out.
This morning, our youngest son woke us early, a thunderstorm had gone through during the night, plus we will be needing to prepare for a trip tomorrow. I got up feeling that this busy day had gotten off to a bad start. I prayed that God would help me find something to read in His Word that would be encouraging. I opened my Bible and my eyes were drawn to Daniel 6. I almost did not read it, thinking that I would rather read somewhere in the gospels instead. But God had allowed me to open there for a reason. Here it was written that the king asked Daniel whether his God is able to deliver him from the lions. That phrase caught my attention. Is thy God able? Is God able to deliver me from my lions of: fears, anxieties, cares or any other lions I am facing? Of course, I know that He is completely able, but what about me? Am I fully trusting Him or am I trying to hold the lions’ mouths shut myself? Let us take a look at some of the lions that we might meet.
The Lion of Work
Those of us who are mothers with a number of young children can at times feel overwhelmed almost to the point of discouragement. Besides being our husband’s help meet, we have cooking, cleaning, laundry, and child training to do. Almost daily we need to be nurse, counselor, and judge. Then on top of that, those of us who are homeschooling mothers have the privilege of juggling those responsibilities as well. It is a blessing to be able to work hard and to work with our children, but let us face it, our work can be a roaring lion ready to devour our peace and joy.
I was impressed with the fact that Daniel did not need to hold the lions’ mouths shut. God sent His angels to do it. In the same way, we can rest in the Lord and trust Him to work everything out. The work will still all be there, but if our attitude is right, we can go to bed at night and sleep peacefully even if not everything is accomplished the way we would like.
In this busy season of our lives—mothers raising a family—it becomes necessary to lay aside some of our ideals and desires. We need to have our priorities straight. In this it would be helpful to consider some practical solutions.
I would suggest making a plan and trying to stick with it. Our family functions so much better when we have a schedule and then follow it. There are some families that have the whole day broken up into fifteen or thirty minute segments for each family member. Our day is not nearly as detailed as that, rather I like to think of our schedule as having certain pillars, then letting everything else fall into place.
The pillars I am referring to are: (1) rising at the same time each day, (2) having our meals at regular times, (3) naps after lunch and (4) a regular bedtime. In among these pillars, I then have lists for the school-age children, so they know what I expect them to do every day. These lists include our regular days for laundry and cleaning. These are all just suggestions for mothers to consider as they try to figure out what works best for them.
I am one of those who like to-do lists. They help me remember all that I want to get done. I can check my lists when the children need something to do. I try to keep it in a handy place and write things down as I think of them. There is no need to invest in something fancy or costly; I just use an inexpensive notebook, which I pick up at our local store.
You could assign jobs for the children. With nine children, I find it very helpful to make a list or schedule for each of the school-age children. That way I do not need to remember what they should be doing. I have received many helpful ideas from other homeschooling moms and from books written to give practical pointers and suggestions for homeschooling families.
We need to have a good attitude. Do not fret if you are not getting everything done that you would like. Sometimes we just do not reach around. If we have done our best, and our husband and children are fed, clean, and content, that is the most important. Sometimes, what we think we need to do is just simply a want, rather than a need.
The Lion of Sickness
This lion roared at us this week. Our ten-year-old and three-year-old sons have been very sick since Sunday with high fevers peaking over 104 degrees F. Now it is Friday and they are still sick. Also, my husband has been in Florida on a business trip for Christian Aid Ministries. While there, he ended up in the Urgent Care facility due to an earache. On top of all this, I had a headache for several days, during which time my two older girls were in PA for Bible school. Although I was feeling quite overwhelmed, I did what I could with the housework.
How will we deal with this lion? We need to trust in the Lord, realizing that all things work together for our good (Romans 8:28-29). Take one moment at a time. I have often pondered on suffering and why God allows suffering in our lives. Somehow, God seems to use suffering to draw us closer to Him and to strengthen our faith.
After I had a heart attack and was lying in that hospital bed, not knowing what my untrustworthy heart would do next, I learned to trust the Lord in a much deeper way than when all was going well and life was easy. This is hard to explain, but I have come to the conclusion that the only way to completely understand this is to actually experience it!
Allow me to share some blessings we have experienced because of sickness. Once, I was sick at a time when we had five young children. No church girls were available to come help me, but an older sister in the church said, “I can come for half a day.” Her girls were already helping other people, but this grandma came, folded my laundry, swept my floors, and washed my dishes. I will never forget how she blessed me that day.
Then, when I had my heart attack after our ninth baby was born, a young sister offered to come help us for several weeks. That also was a tremendous blessing for us, while I recovered from that traumatic event. God was showing His love and care for us through other believers.
The Lion of Discouragement
As women, we are emotional beings. I believe it is one of Satan’s tactics to tempt us with discouragement. In order to overcome discouragement, we can meditate on what God says in His Word, “I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (II Corinthians 6:16, 18).
If you are discouraged, meditate on the fact that you are a daughter of the Lord Almighty! Also, do not compare yourself with others, since that only brings pride and/or discouragement. “But they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” Keep your eyes focused on the Lord Jesus and seek only the approval of your Father in heaven (John 5:44).
The Lions of Fear and Anxiety
There are countless things we can be anxious about. We fear sickness, accidents, and death of loved ones. We worry about what other people think. Sometimes we really are in fearful situations. After my heart attack I was gripped by an overwhelming fear. At this time, a dear friend shared something with me that helped me overcome this lion in my life. She said it matters where you look. I realized I could look at all that could go wrong or I could look at God’s grace that had helped me thus far and believe that His grace would be sufficient for the future. Some scriptures that also helped me were: “The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O LORD, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands.” (Psalm 138:8), “Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.” (Psalm 139:5), “... And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not…” (Revelation 1:17).
Do not keep your fear to yourself. Pray. Talk to someone about it and ask them to pray for you. Meditate on God’s word. Another powerful tool against fear and anxiety is singing.
Let us rise up and say with Daniel, “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.” Daniel 6:22
How gentle God’s commands,
How kind His precepts are!
Come, cast your burdens on the Lord,
And trust His constant care.
Beneath His watchful eye
His saints securely dwell;
That hand which bears all nature up
Shall guide His children well.
Why should this anxious load
Press down your weary mind?
Haste to your heav’nly Father’s throne,
And sweet refreshment find.
His goodness stands approved,
Unchanged from day to day;
I’ll drop my burden at His feet,
And bear a song away.