Even If He Does Not
If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up!”
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego had stood up strong for God in a hostile, foreign land, and now they were facing the consequences. A royal decree demanded that they die for their faith. It was patently unfair. They could have been really angry with God, but instead they trusted Him. The statement they made in that critical moment articulates rock-solid faith in God’s abilities without demanding that He act in a certain way.
Could God rescue them from the fire? Certainly. He could fix the problem in a dozen different ways. Would He? They didn’t know. They didn’t put a straitjacket on God and insist that He bail them out a certain way- or bail them out at all. They believed not only on the power of God to rescue but also in the wisdom of God to choose when, where, and how to demons His power.
Church history tells us about countless men and women who have faced the same challenges. They served God faithfully and well, they put themselves in God’s hands to do whatever He chose to do. Sometimes, they were miraculously rescued; more often, they died for their faith. Either way, they were convinced that God is faithful. God was honored by their trust in Him, and that was enough for them.
When we stand up for God in our families, at work, and in our neighborhoods, we can expect some applause, but we can also expect opposition. When we face the consequences of our faith, will we trust in God’s wisdom as well as in His power to rescue?
It is much easier to tell your story than to live your story.
I have a minister friend who has coined a phrase about trusting God with the outcome of every situation. He calls it the “state of indifference.” When I first heard him say that, my response was, “Well I’m certainly not indifferent. I know exactly how I want things to turn out.” As I listened, however, I discovered the truth of the three Hebrew boys. They were not indifferent as we would define indifference. I don’t think you could be indifferent in that way if you were facing a blazing furnace that had been heated especially for you. The “state of indifference” is that of fully trusting God with whatever He decides to do. They knew God had the power to rescue them. They were not questioning His power nor His grace. They were confidently placing themselves at the disposal of God to do with them as He chose. If He chose to rescue them they would give Him praise. If He chose not to rescue them they would die for their faith and be carried into the Lord’s presence. I know those who have declared that they live by faith but when their prayers weren’t answered just like they wished, they walked away from God. You see for them God was their servant, carrying out their demands and when that didn’t happen, they couldn’t process so they walked away. I’ve seen people over the years leave God, leave churches, and family and friends when their demands were not met. I think it might be good for for all of us to take a lesson from those three Hebrew boys. You see they made no demands on God. They just gave themselves to His care and trusted Him to choose the end of the story. In their case, we read that God not only delivered them from the fiery furnace but the king observed that those boys were not alone in the furnace. There was another with them that looked like the Son of God. Whatever their outcome, they knew that God was with them and that’s all we need to know. As you read Hebrews 11 you read stories of those that God worked incredible miracles in their lives, blessed them, delivered them, and did almost impossible things for them. But if you read farther, you will discover that there were others that God did not deliver or answer their cry or work a miracle for them.
“Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured [to death], refusing to accept release [offered on the condition of denying their faith], so that they would be resurrected to a better life; and others experienced the trial of mocking and scourging [amid torture], and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned [to death], they were sawn in two, they were lured with tempting offers [to renounce their faith], they were put to death by the sword; they went about wrapped in the skins of sheep and goats, utterly destitute, oppressed, cruelly treated ( people of whom the world was not worthy ), wandering in deserts and mountains and [living in] caves and holes in the ground. And all of these, though they gained [divine] approval through their faith, did not receive [the fulfillment of] what was promised, because God had us in mind and had something better for us, so that they [these men and women of authentic faith] would not be made perfect [that is, completed in Him] apart from us.” (Hebrews 11:35-40)
Mercy Me has produced a song titled “Even If” and in it they sing that those who trust in God continue to do so even if things don’t go as planned or desired. That’s trust, that’s the state of indifference in which we pray as Christ prayed, “Not my will but thine be done” and then we rest in His love and grace. Whatever to outcome we know that God loves us and that He is for us and someway and somehow He will make a way for us.
Dr. John Thompson