Is there anything in your life that terrifies you? Something that would require courageous faith to overcome? Are there challenges, threats, fears or worries that seem insurmountable?

If you said yes to any of those questions, you aren’t alone.  We all face difficulties in life.  This reality is part of the human experience, but it isn’t what defines us. We are defined not by our fears, but rather how we respond to them.

In 1872 the British artist Briton Riviere captured a poignant moment of profound courage in the face of fear, in his painting “Daniel in the Lion’s Den“.

Daniel in the Lion's Den - Riviere.jpg
Daniel in the Lion’s Den – Briton Riviere 1872 (source: ArtUK)

Riviere captured a calmness in the face of fear, as Daniel faced the threat of death, ominously crouching, preparing to pounce. His head is humbly bowed and his eyes, though obscured, seem to stare down the lions before him.  He is completely exposed, shielded only by faith in his God. With hands crossed behind his back, Daniel stands with a confidence that could only come from a completely surrendered heart. What allowed Daniel to stand so firm in his faith at that moment? How was if faith so immovable and impenetrable?

Eighteen years later, Riviere revisited this scene repositioning the subjects in “Daniel’s Answer to the King.

Daniel's Answer to the King - Briton Riviere 1890
Daniel’s Answer to the King – Briton Riviere 1890 (source: ArtUK)

In this later work Riviere shows Daniel with his eyes gazing away from the lurking lions, he looks upwards towards a window.  His face is illuminated as his focus is fixed heavenward.  Similar to the earlier painting his hands are submissively crossed behind his back, however the lions warily keep their distance in this later iteration.  While the threats are still clearly apparent, they are held at bay, perceptibly intimidated and restrained.  Daniel exudes an unshakeable confidence that clearly is rooted in his focus on His God.

Whatever challenges you are facing in life today, let me encourage you to turn your face toward heaven.  For it is in the process of facing the Lord that we find the courage and strength to stand firm.

Facing the Lord gives us the faith to face the lions.

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2 thoughts on “The Source of Courage: Lessons from an 18th Century Painter!

  1. I like this one, a lot, particularly the poster art and quote “Facing God…”. I was blessed once discovering that word “face” (paniym, Stongs6440) found in the phrase of 2Chron 7:14 …”pray and seek My face…” was most often translated presence, as in coming before a King, to have audience with Him. God is everywhere, “omnipresent” we learn in catechisms. Yet we enjoy special communion with Him when we come into His presence, when we ‘face God’. ‘Seeking His face’, that focussed connection, and turning from our wicked ways were among the four conditions God gave Solomon for the forgiveness of His people’s sin and healing of the their land. Daniel, had this truth down cold.

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