The message was true, but the appointed time was long. – Daniel 10:1
Wars are never short enough. In addition to those battles that confront us as nations, there are struggles that each of us face privately—conflicts that go on so much longer than we expected, hoped, or prayed that they would.
There’s an inclination for people who walk with Christ—even though we are certain of our eternal destiny in Him—to miss the opportunity to apply the principles of God’s Word when confronted by the challenges of everyday living. There are those times, for example, when we’ve received a promise from God; when our faith and anticipation have arisen, and we are certain He’s spoken to us, but then things don’t seem to happen as we expected them to. It’s not as though we “give up” on the promise, but the protraction of battle so often brings a weariness of soul. You and I both know this. We all face such times of enduring, internal personal conflict.
In Daniel, chapter 9, God speaks to the prophet about “seventy weeks.” One can imagine how long 17-18 months would seem, but then Daniel finds out the “seventy” is symbolic, not as he counted the weeks. So Daniel, chapter 10, begins with his receiving the realization that, while the prophecy or “message” he received was true, still the “appointed time” of the conflict until the promise manifested “was long.”
Though I am simplifying this overview of Daniel’s encounter, I do so to help us bring the reality of our longer-than-expected-conflicts into the light of God’s Word and ways. Let’s bring Daniel’s experience into focus for those times when you and I feel, “I know God gave me a word of promise, but now I’ve discovered that it’s taking longer in coming about than I had hoped or prayed.” That’s when the inner conflict comes; not in an animosity toward God but in the inner wrenching of our soul. And into such situations, let me introduce Daniel’s response. His experience reveals five things to do “when the war goes longer than expected.”
Open Daniel chapter 10 with me, would you please? With our Bibles opened, let’s walk through five principles.
1. Make it a time for humble soul-searching
In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks. (v. 2)
The Hebrew word translated “mourning” is often also used for “fasting” elsewhere in the Bible. It describes a person seeking the Lord with a humble heart; the focus being on “mourning” for my smallness or my sin—confessing my need as opposed to lamenting, weeping, or whining about my disappointments. Daniel chooses to make God his focus rather than himself or his circumstance.
We can face long-term difficulty in one of two ways: We can wait for things to happen or we can wait on God. If I wait for “things” to happen, I will become confined to shifting circumstances that may never seem to satisfy me or resolve situations. But if I wait on God, I will open the way to finding a place of permanency, sustenance, and confidence in God, no matter what may be happening around me.
However, be sure of a companion need: This matter of setting our souls humbly before God is not the wretched self-condemnation that says, “I can think of a dozen reasons why this will never happen for me because I’ve fouled things up so badly.” If your faith is blocked from a future peace of God’s purpose in your life because of things you have or have not done in the past, change your history: Come before the Throne of the living God, dear one! Take His Word of promise that “the Blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). The cleansing power of the Blood will burn away all clouds of condemnation from your mind as powerfully as the sun burns gloom off a mountaintop. The promise in God’s Word is secure, so begin by humbling your heart before God, and rest the “long battle” before Him, knowing you are at peace in Him.
2. Expect God to show you things that other people might not see.
I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, a certain man clothed in linen…And I, Daniel, alone saw the vision… (v. 5-7)
The Bible clearly says that God has given His Holy Spirit to us for many reasons—most commonly including power for bearing witness to Christ ,and power for effectiveness in prayer. But in Acts 2:12, it also notes that God gives His Holy Spirit so that as we live in that fullness, we will receive insight—even visions and dreams—as He shows us things that have to do with us personally. These revelations are only valid when they are in line with Scripture, but they are real, and they are a means by which God teaches us, corrects us, and personally assists us in and through whatever we are facing.
If God showed a vision to Daniel, you can expect Him to show things to you too. He isn’t, of course, giving you an equal revelation as the Bible itself, but He does teach, reveal, and instruct so we know how to respond to our personal trials. When the Lord speaks to us, He doesn’t do it to feed our ego or inflate us with a sense of spiritual superiority. But He does show us things so we know better how to handle that which confronts us.
3. Listen to God’s message of certainties, and cling to them.
And he said to me, “O Daniel, man greatly beloved…Do not fear…your words were heard; and I have come because of your words.” (v. 11-12)
The angelic visitation God gave Daniel involved three things clearly said: (1) You’re greatly loved; (2) Your prayer has been heard; (3) I am here because you prayed. All these are parallel to promises God has given us: “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3); “Call upon Me in the day of trouble” (Psalm 50:15); and “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). Hold to these truths while the battle still rages! Just because everything you have asked of God hasn’t happened doesn’t mean nothing is happening. What is happening is that the Lord loves you, and He is surrounding you with His love right now.
When the war goes longer than expected, and you wonder what happened to your prayer, be assured that your prayer has been heard. That’s what the heavenly visitor says to Daniel: “I have come because of your words” (v. 12).
4. Every struggle involves the resolution of more than just your dilemma.
“But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days…Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come.” (v. 13-14)
Daniel’s heavenly visitor tells him that other things are involved than simply getting an answer to the word he’s been given. The text then describes a confrontation in progress in the spiritual realm—a battle with a demonic being. It involved a complex point of resolution, including a willingness on the part of the people of Israel to respond to God’s Word—a decision as to whether they would or would not be willing to return to Jerusalem when the opportunity came.
When it comes to the blockage of the human will, we are always dealing with satanic obstruction (See 2 Corinthians 4:3,4). The reference to the “latter days” reminds us that there are some things that have to do with appointed future times. Sometimes those things include people’s choices and satanic opposition causing it to take longer than expected for our promised answers to be revealed. The reason is because of slower responses by others who are in the complex mix of interaction with our lives and God’s will surrounding us.
There are things that we want to see happen quickly, but only God knows how to deal with our situations, overthrow those works of darkness obstructing His promise, and bring other people into His purpose at the same time. Our prayers don’t just throw a switch in heaven and make everything melt into a critical mass that explodes in response to our desires. There are often many things being resolved which involve other people when our prayer is answered, especially with regard to issues that occupy us with a sense of conflict and struggle.
5. Let the peace of God rule in your heart.
And he said, “O man greatly beloved, fear not! Peace be to you; be strong, yes, be strong!” So when he spoke to me I was strengthened, and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.” (v. 19)
In our weakness, we may wonder and wait, but we need not fear. Let God’s peace make you strong, and let His Spirit refresh you. Peace is a fragile commodity. You will only have as much peace as you have defense; but not the kind of defense that is contrived or constructed by your own will.
How many times have you found that peace came to your heart and then seemed to dissipate in the face of the next difficulty? In those long seasons of conflict, let God’s defenses be fixed around your soul so that peace doesn’t shatter. Don’t let anxiety overwhelm you. Don’t let impatience, intolerance or soul-weariness crunch you. As the apostle Paul wrote to believers at Philippi:
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus”. – Philippians 4:6-7, emphasis added.
That apostolic prompter applies today, dear ones: When things start to trouble your mind; when the war goes on longer than expected, and you’re not getting the answers as quickly as you’d like, don’t let apprehension, doubt or fear take over. Rest your requests with God, and He will cause His peace to garrison your mind and heart. His peace will reinforce you from being stampeded into foolish behavior, toward unnecessary activity, into retreat from a bold point of faith, or into neglect of your stance of responsibility—all in the glorious light of what He’s called you to be and promised you to become.