by Annette Bridges. © 2007. All rights reserved.

OK, so we all can’t be a contestant on the hit TV reality series “Survivor,” now beginning its 15th season. Maybe you don’t have any interest in being applauded as the “ultimate survivor.” But, no doubt, each of us will have many opportunities in our life journeys to proclaim, “I survived!”

Perhaps your survival challenge will be a difficult test at school, a tough project at work, a life-threatening illness or injury, a financial catastrophe, a marital problem or the loss of a loved one — the list could be endless. Whatever you face, you may have moments when you struggle with discouragement, feeling overwhelmed or afraid. But such responses need not be. Take heart, my friends! Defeating devastating challenges and overcoming daunting tasks are plausible and possible because God gave us the dominion and strength to do so. Jesus told us, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God” (Luke 18:27).

I’ve always been inspired by these encouraging words of American blind and deaf educator Helen Keller: “Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of overcoming it. My optimism, then, does not rest on the absence of evil, but on a glad belief in the preponderance of good and a willing effort always to cooperate with the good, that it may prevail. I try to increase the power God has given me to see the best in everything and every one, and make that best a part of my life.”

I’m reminded of the biblical account of Daniel when he survived punishment for worshiping God (Daniel 6:1-22). Daniel’s peers were intensely jealous of him because he was the king’s favorite, so they manipulated and tricked the king into creating a scenario that would get Daniel into trouble. Appealing perhaps to the king’s ego, the conspirators persuaded the king to sign a decree that required petitions be made only to the king — with anyone violating the decree to be thrown into a den of lions.

His evil peers knew of Daniel’s faithfulness and commitment to pray only to God — which he did three times a day. The king apparently wasn’t thinking about this when he signed the statute. Daniel, of course, knew about the new law, but he maintained his allegiance to his spirituality in spite of the threat of dire consequences. Doing the right thing doesn’t always mean a road without challenges.

At the prodding of Daniel’s jealous peers, the king had no alternative than to order Daniel to be punished according to the new law. But the king also told Daniel, “Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee.”

And sure enough, Daniel’s innocence and fearlessness protected him from the lions, and he was unharmed the next morning when the king anxiously arrived at the lion’s den in hopes that Daniel was safe.

I read an explanation given by an animal behavior expert who said a lion’s attack is prompted either by fear or flight on the part of the prey. Daniel seemed unmoved and fearless by the forces arrayed against him both in and out of the lions’ den. His resolve and confidence were clearly based on his understanding of God’s love and divine will as well as an understanding of his spiritual identity. This understanding was the “truth” that made him free from harm as when Jesus declared, “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).

The truth is, we are God’s spiritual and good creation. And we are never for a moment outside or separated from the love and care of our divine Parent. Instead of becoming a victim to circumstances beyond his control, Daniel became a witness to God’s power and proved God’s control even when he was in the midst of the lions.

Daniel had truthful arguments for his strong defense. The truth of his spiritual selfhood and sincere and honest actions affirmed and preserved his innocence. Jesus said, “Ye shall know the truth,” which confirms that knowing the truth of God and our spiritual identity is a requirement and a promise. And he said, “Truth shall make you free,” which asserts that freedom is God’s will for us all.

Yes, you shall be a survivor. Whatever you face along your life journey, you can understand the truth of God’s power and control over all and feel safe, be safe and — as Daniel did — come through the experience as the victor. The Psalmist assures us, ” … weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Psalm 30:5).