23 At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly loved. Therefore consider the word and understand the vision. (Daniel 9:23)
10 And behold, a hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. 11 And he said to me, “O Daniel, man greatly loved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for now I have been sent to you.” And when he had spoken this word to me, I stood up trembling. (Daniel 10:10)
18 Again one having the appearance of a man touched me and strengthened me. 19 And he said, “O man greatly loved, fear not, peace be with you; be strong and of good courage.” And as he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.” (Daniel 10:18-19)
Three times in two chapters, Daniel is described as a man “greatly loved.”
Notice when he gets the word. All three times, it is when he is overwhelmed by the visions he is seeing. In chapter 9, the visions have driven him to an extended period of mourning, fasting, and repentance. This period lasted three weeks (see 10:2-3).
In all three cases, three things are emphasized:
- When Daniel is weak and confused, he is reminded that he is loved.
- With love comes understanding.
- With understanding comes strength.
When I was in high school, I was involved in drama, chorus, and theatre. It was always interesting to contrast what was going on behind the curtain with what was happening on stage. Backstage is often a frenzy of controlled chaos. Actors are changing costumes. Stagehands are moving sets into place. Prop masters are getting props where they need to be. All the while the tech director, lighting designer, prompters, musicians, sound engineers, and a host of others are in communication with the director, all working to make sure the vision of the creator is realized onstage.
The book of Daniel is like that. We don’t always (if ever) get a peek behind the curtain the way Daniel did. But we can be certain that God hears our prayers from the moment we begin praying, and that there is an entire backstage crew that is at work, bringing the production to life according to the vision of our Creator.
And know this, beloved: When you are at your weakest and most confused, God reminds you that you are greatly loved. Be strengthened.