Daniel 6: 19-23 and Matthew 6:25-34

Did we miss the whole point? As I was growing up, when a difficult situation arose, we were told to ‘pull up our bootstraps’. This saying evolved in the next generation to ‘suck it up’. Then it seems like we went from that to YOLO. Times continue to change and it seems our idioms do as well.

Do you remember ‘pull up your bootstraps’? I looked up the meaning and it is defined as: “Improve your situation by your own efforts”. According to phrases.org.uk, “It refers, of course, to boots and the straps that some boots have attached to help the wearer pull them on. And to the imagined feat of a lifting oneself up off the ground by pulling on one’s bootstraps. This impossible task is supposed to exemplify the achievement of getting out of a difficult situation by one’s own efforts.” It was referred to by James Joyce in Ulysses, 1922. But in 1 Peter 5:6-7 we are told: “So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time He will lift you up in honor.  Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.”

I know I have spent years striving, driving and trying to pull up my bootstraps and move on, as the saying goes, rather than humbling myself before God and giving Him my worries. Have you?

Then the next saying that comes to mind from some years later, is ‘suck it up’. Not one that our parents may have used! And even more recently it was lengthened to ‘suck it up, buttercup’. When I looked up the meaning, it appears in the Urban Dictionary (which tells of its more recent addition to our slang). It’s origin is said to have come from WWII pilots. If a pilot happened to vomit into their Oxygen mask, they had to “suck it up” otherwise, they would breathe the acidic fumes into their lungs and die. The expression actually means to choose the lesser of two evils. “Suck up your vomit and live OR breathe in the acidic fumes and die.” In our culture it has gone on to mean to endure a period of mental, physical or emotional hardship with no complaining. In Psalm 5 verse 22 we are told:  “Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.”

I think more than once, I have been encouraged (to put it nicely) to ‘suck it up’. And I know I have given this same “encouragement” as well. How about you?

Then it seems we have evolved to YOLO. Canadian Rapper Drake used YOLO for in his bonus track of “The Motto” released in 2011. (The lyrics of which I do not even recommend reading). Y.O.L.O. Or You Only Live Once… Gives way to the idea that we need to live in the moment. Pay attention to what we need or want RIGHT now. Not to worry over the future. This one probably sounds the most like the words of Jesus from Matthew 6:34: “Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

All three sayings have some merit. We must face our trials and tribulations head on. Suck it up, pull up our bootstraps and remember we only live once. But there is a significant piece missing from these philosophies.

Listening to the Lutheran Hour, one day in May 2018, the question was raised if our actions were truly Christian or if we were functional Atheists. I had to wonder, do those who witness my actions and those that hear my words, are they seeing and hearing Jesus? Or am I portraying just another functional atheist ? Even if I am being kind or “good”. Is my heart fully focused on Christ? I would love to say “YES” 100% of the time! But the truth be told, I often find myself trying to ‘pull up my bootstraps’ without first giving my troubles to God. Without letting Him do the heavy lifting and resting in His comforting arms. Am I showing the world that I am not depending on my God? How often do I go about trying to “fix” something rather than relying on God to protect me from the fiery furnaces in my life?

In Daniel 3, we learn that King Nebuchadnezzar has constructed a large gold statue that he is expecting everyone in the kingdom to bow down to. ‘Anyone who does not kneel and worship will be thrown immediately into a roaring furnace’. Three Jewish men – Schadrach, Meshach and Abednego – were present and refused to worship the statue. The King gave them one last chance. They replied: “Your threat means nothing to us. If you throw us in the fire, the God we serve can rescue us from your roaring furnace and anything else you might cook up, O king. But even if he doesn’t, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference. We still wouldn’t serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.” (vv. 16-18)

This is a testimony! All the witnesses knew who these men served. Do others see us this way? Are we a living testimony?

How many times are we hurting and the comfort we receive amounts to ‘suck it up’? I am guilty of offering this type of comfort and I fear that this is not what God has in mind as compassion. And I am also guilty of just trying to ‘suck it up’ on my own and not burdening others. But how does this look from the outside? Some have thought I am a snob. The truth be told, I’m just really good at trying to handle things on my own and not sharing my troubles.

What God wants is for me to come to Him. Depend on Him. Put my faith in Him. Be steadfast in my belief just as Schadrach, Meshach and Abednego were.

In Daniel 6:7-23, we see King Darius’ administrators looking for ways to get rid of Daniel. They knew Daniel prayed three times a day to God. They went to the King and said: ‘The royal administrators, advisers and governors have all agreed that the king should issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or human being during the next thirty days, except to you, Your Majesty, shall be thrown into the lions’ den. Now, Your Majesty, issue the decree and put it in writing so that it cannot be altered—in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.” So King Darius put the decree in writing.

Daniel heard about the edict but continued to pray three times a day to God. The administrators followed and watched Daniel praying. So. they went to the king and spoke to him about his royal decree: “Did you not publish a decree that during the next thirty days anyone who prays to any god or human being except to you, Your Majesty, would be thrown into the lions’ den?”

The king answered, “The decree stands—in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.”

Then they said to the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, Your Majesty, or to the decree you put in writing. He still prays three times a day.”

When the king heard this, he was greatly distressed; he was determined to rescue Daniel and made every effort until sundown to save him.

Then the men went as a group to King Darius and said to him, “Remember, Your Majesty, that according to the law of the Medes and Persians no decree or edict that the king issues can be changed.”

So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!” 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. Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him. And he could not sleep.

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.’

Another AMAZING testimony! How are we doing allowing God to ‘shut the lion’s mouth’ in our lives? Do we willingly walk into the lion’s den with complete faith in God’s protection – no matter the outcome?

YOLO – You Only Live Once! You bet we do! One time around is all we get! This much is true, we do only have one life to live and if we call ourselves Christians, that life is forever!

But these words should not be used to encourage us to act selfishly. To grab all the gusto we can get. To make sure we are getting our fair share and more. These words should be a motto for following Christ! Knowing that our God is a God of provision. Knowing that we can depend on Him for all our needs and that He always provides enough for us and enough for us to share with others. Knowing that we can depend on Him and therefore our focus isn’t on ourselves but on Him and those He puts into our lives.

You Only Live Once and God calls us to spend that life in offering: Offering forgiveness, to others as well as ourselves; Offering compassion; Offering kindness; Being grateful; Being loving; Being focused on Jesus; Offering witness.
Witness that allows others to see us allowing God to pull up our bootstraps. Witness that allows others to see us give our burdens to God and accept the peace He alone can give, instead of sucking it up. Witness that our one life we have to live is an offering to an all-powerful God

Who are you? Who am I? Do others see us as functional Atheists or as living Christians?

Jeni Varecha
Lay Servant

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