The current series is on Daniel, and this morning as we reached chapter 3, some popular characters arrived on the scene: Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego (or Rack, Shack & Benny, if you prefer VeggieTale nicknames). If you grew up hearing bible stories, it's likely you've heard this one. King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold and commanded all to bow to it and worship it when the horns, harps or any kind of music was sounded. Those refusing to do so would be placed in the fiery furnace.
Being fully devoted followers, Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego refused to worship the golden image. So, of course King Nebuchadnezzar summoned them. He gave them an opportunity to deny their "crime." Here's where the story gets really good. The three friends told the king they trusted their God to deliver them from the fiery furnace and from the king's hand. Then comes verse 18:
"But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up."
If you've heard the story before, you probably remember that God did indeed deliver these three friends from the fiery furnace and even make a believer out of King Nebuchadnezzar. But, for me, the beauty in today's passage was in verse 18. That simple phrase, "but if not..."
These three men were so devoted in their faith they didn't require a guarantee that they'd be rescued or even kept from harm for their devotion. Many times I think because I've prayed about something and I've trusted God's will on a matter that it should be all roses and sunshine.
God never promised us this life would be easy. In fact, His word says quite the opposite through His faithful servant, Paul: "Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance." Romans 5:3. In I Peter 3:17, we read: "For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil."
But, this is not just a post on praising Him in your suffering. This is about praising Him even if He never delivers you from that suffering. Would I have the faith to say, "But if not..."
Heal my broken-hearted friend, strengthen my sister, help people to move on, surround my struggling friend, put an end to the disappointment, honor your servants, BUT IF NOT...you are still good.