"In my anguish I cried to the Lord, and He answered by setting me free. The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? The Lord is with me; he is my helper. I will look in triumph on my enemies." (Psalm 118:5-7)
I read some time ago how a well-known television circus show developed a Bengal tiger act that was performed live before a large audience. One evening, the tiger trainer went into the cage with several tigers to do a routine performance. The door was locked behind him. The spotlights highlighted the cage, the television cameras moved in close, and the audience watched in suspense as the trainer skillfully put the tigers through their paces.
In the middle of the performance, the worst possible fate befell the act: the power went out! For thirty long seconds the trainer was locked in with the tigers. In the darkness they could see him, but he could not see them. A whip and a small kitchen chair seemed meager protection under the circumstances. But he survived, and when the lights came on, he calmly finished the performance.
In an interview afterward, he was asked how he felt knowing the tigers could see him but that he could not see them. He first admitted the chilling fear of the situation, but pointed out that the tigers did not know that he could not see them. He said, "I just kept cracking my whip and talking to them until the lights came on. And they never knew I couldn't see them as well as they could see me."1
Do you ever feel caught in the dark with the "tigers of your heart" or circumstances that seem to be out of your control? I sure have. Two things I do in these situations. First, I keep quoting today's Scripture, "The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" I'm sure David kept saying this when King Saul was out to kill him—and David couldn't know where he was most of the time. Second, I ask God to confront me with the truth and reality of what I might in any way be contributing to the situation I am in.
It's not until I pray for what I am contributing to "my dark nights of despair" that I see the light—and know exactly what I need to do to change my circumstances wherever this is possible, or at least to overcome my tigers of fear.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank You that my life is in Your hands and that You are always with me in my dark days of despair just as You are in my happy days of rejoicing. Thank You, too, for Your promise that You will never leave me nor forsake me. Help me to always remember this, and trust my life to You, and be willing to face what I am contributing to my situation, change what I can change, and learn to accept joyfully what I cannot change. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus's name, amen."
Rev Dick Innes
1 Thomas Lane Butts, cited on KneEmail, http://www.oakhillcoc.org.