In Sunday School yesterday we talked about Daniel 6 (the lions' den story). I think it's beautiful how King Darius rushes to the den first thing in the morning, anxious to see how Daniel is doing because he cares about him as a friend and never wanted to see him condemned (but was sort of tricked into it by his jealous princes). Daniel greets/praises the king first ("O King, live for ever") and THEN assures him that he's fine and that God kept him safe. I see a sense of relief, connection, and camaraderie in that moment.
I think a lot of us inadvertently put our friends and acquaintances in "lions' dens." We hurt each other. Do we, like Darius, then rush to provide support? Or are we like Nebuchadnezzar and his fiery furnace a few chapters earlier--i.e. do we allow ourselves to get provoked into anger and justification for [physical or spiritual or emotional] violence towards others? And do we react to others' salvation with confusion and surprise (like Nebuchadnezzar) or with comfort and satisfaction (like Darius)?
To use another metaphor: this Christmas season let's make sure we have "room in the inn" for one another. Sometimes our inn is crowded, or in other words our hearts and minds and lives are chaotic and exhausted. But we can make room.
The Son of God joined Shadrach Meshach and Abednego in Nebuchadnezzar's fiery furnace and was their companion, their comforter. Angels calmed the lions' mouths for Daniel in the den. The precedent is clear: we need to lift others' burdens. Even (especially!) if we're the ones who created those burdens--like Darius.