In “A Better Resurrection,” Victorian poet Christina Rossetti expressed the pain of waiting in silence before the Lord:
“I have no wit, no words, no tears;
My heart within me like a stone
Is numb’d too much for hopes or fears;
Look right, look left, I dwell alone;
I lift mine eyes, but dimm’d with grief
No everlasting hills I see;
My life is in the falling leaf:
O Jesus, quicken me.”
Today’s passage describes Daniel’s difficult days of waiting for the Lord to answer a prayer. When the angel God sent at last appeared, Daniel fell with his face to the ground and later responded with speechless anguish. Both times the angel touched him to give him renewed strength (vv. 10–11, 15–19).
Being overcome with fear is a common reaction in Scripture to divine phenomena. In the Christmas story, for example, Zechariah, Mary, and the shepherds all had to be told by an angel, “Do not be afraid.” When Christ appeared to John the Apostle in his apocalyptic vision, John fell at His feet as though dead, overcome by God’s glory (Rev. 1:17–18).
The date was 536 B.C., which means Daniel was 84 years old. The first Jews had returned from exile to Jerusalem two years previously, but things were not going well. Daniel had been praying and fasting continually and earnestly for God to come to their aid. God sent an angel with an answer for His “highly esteemed” or “greatly loved” servant, but the angel had been delayed twenty-one days due to warfare with a fallen angel (vv. 12–14). This had been a difficult time for Daniel as he waited on the Lord. Notice that “waiting” here does not mean passively standing around; rather, “waiting” means actively seeking and worshiping the Lord.
Daniel's experience reminds us that we often don't have all the information "behind the scenes" in the spiritual realm. We aren’t promised that God will tell us about the spiritual warfare being waged on our behalf, but we have His assurance that He continues to hear our prayers and heartfelt cries to Him. Our waiting can be worship.