But Even If He Doesn’t
There’s a Bible story tucked away in the small book of Daniel that many of us learned at Vacation Bible School or Sunday School when we were growing up. It’s the story of Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego. About how there was a king who was so hot on himself that he built a giant gold statue and demanded all his constituents bow down and worship the image. But three Hebrew men, Rack, Shack, and Benny (as VeggieTales coined them in their movie version) refuse. The three men stood up to the King and then in a fit of rage the King threw them into the fiery furnace bent on burning them to death as an example to their peers. But, GOD had other plans and sent an angel into the furnace to protect the men. They emerged from the fiery pit completely unharmed, without a hair on their head scorched.
This is how the story was taught to me as a child. And I think it’s how it’s taught to most children. But I think it leaves out the most important part. It skips over the lesson taught in Ch. 3 verses 17-18. A lesson for all of us about not only how powerful God is, but what true faith and strength looks like. A lesson that tells us that God’s love for his children, His goodness, or His omnipotence is not defined by whether or not he swoops in and rescues us from our struggles. God is GOD regardless if a situation or crisis ends the way we think it should.
In verses 17 and 18, the men stand up to the King, right before they are thrown into the fire and state that they know God is able to save them (verse 17). And THEN they say “but even if HE doesn’t….” (Verse 18).
But even if HE doesn’t. How much faith did it take to not only say this but to believe it! Facing death, they know that God is able to save them, but their faith is not bound to whether or not GOD acts. God is still real, and powerful, and worthy of their worship even if HE doesn’t save them from their deaths. Do I have that sort of faith in my life?
This story has come to mean a lot to me in the last year or so. Since we discovered that Annie had suffered a stroke and would struggle to learn physical skills and milestones that most parents take for granted. Since we encountered some unexpected issues with baby on the way #4 and have been left in what feels like an eternal waiting limbo to see if the issue has resolved itself by 20 weeks. Knowing that, really, any day in the next month, the situation could go from improving to unsalvageable in the blink of an eye.
A lot of well meaning people, who I think don’t know what else to say, always say “God will heal Annie” or “God will save this baby”. Yes HE is able. Yes HE could take away Annie’s struggles or the mountain we face in the weeks ahead with this pregnancy. But even if HE doesn’t I know that God is still good. That he still loves me. And my children. And all of us. God is not defined by whether or not he solves these problems the way I want it fixed.
Sometimes God’s love is seen in the journey. In a struggle. In a less-than-perfect situation that leads us to grow, to meet people we never would have met otherwise. Sometimes God’s love is in the miracle of complete healing or rescue. Sometimes it’s even in the tragedy, even though we may not see it until the years reveal the larger picture.
We must always remember that our God is able to do wonderful things. But even if HE doesn’t, that he still cares for each of us.