Then Daniel (also called Belteshazzar) was greatly perplexed for a time, and his thoughts terrified him. So the king said, “Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its meaning alarm you.” Belteshazzar answered, “My lord, if only the dream applied to your enemies and its meaning to your adversaries! Daniel 4:19 (NIV).
Yes, Daniel felt uneasy about the task before him. Various translations of Daniel 4:19 use the verbs “perplexed, dismayed, astonished, overcome, appalled, stunned, stricken dumb (or mute), stupefied, amazed, confused, worried, alarmed, troubled,” and “upset,” where the NIV simply says “perplexed.” You’d have to go to the original Hebrew verbiage to find what was recorded. Daniel’s thoughts terrified him. He didn’t lose faith in God, and God quickly showed him the meaning of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. But what God showed him terrified Daniel.
That’s ok. Let’s be real: sometimes God does terrify us. Sometimes following Jesus demands a terrible, heavy burden (even as His burden actually, truly is light and easy). Having faith in the Lord means doing something that most of the world finds offensive. Demonstrating that faith can mean going out on a limb, getting out of your comfort zone. Thus, delivering a message from the Most High God to the most powerful man in the world might cost you your life. Daniel knew the score and he was terrified. It’d be like someone delivering bad news to Stalin. Or Saddam Hussein. Or Mark Zuckerberg. Or, according to many accounts, Ellen.
We’re watching “11/22/63” on Hulu right now. It’s an adaptation of the book of the same title by Stephen King, and it is about a man trying to prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The story involves time travel, and one of the themes in the story is, when you go back in the past, the past fights being altered. It’s not just fictionally creepy: (in typical Stephen King fashion) the idea of it could be terrifying if it happened in real life.
Why? Because, yes, sometimes God does terrify us. Sometimes He does it through unnatural events in our lives. Sometimes it’s by forcing us to confront things we don’t want to see. And, yes, sometimes He does it by simply removing His hand of grace and letting the consequences of our choices play out. Usually those choices involve sin, and usually even small sins produce a butterfly effect. I can’t imagine how terrifying it would be to see what could happen without God’s protection in my life. I don’t even want to think about how horrible the unchecked outcome of even a white lie could be.
It’d be like 11/22/63 fighting back, trying to prevent the undoing of something already done. Or facing an angry, scared Babylonian king.
For further reading: Daniel 4:20
Lord Jesus, all praise and thanks to You for Your grace and protection in our world.