A while back, my pastor preached a message on the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and the fiery furnace. I didn’t realize I kind of don’t like those guys until that moment. As they told King Nebuchadnezzar they refused to worship an image, they said a phrase I’ve read before but hadn’t fully processed.
If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up. (Daniel 3:17-18, NIV. Emphasis mine.)
But even if he does not.
It would have been bold, and perhaps would have sent a stronger message, if Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had simply told the king their God would save them. Instead, they proclaimed that God is able, he would deliver them, and they also acknowledged they did not fully know what deliverance would look like. I can only assume they desired to live to tell the story, but they were still willing to trust God even before they knew the outcome.
Those words “But even if he does not” paint a picture of a kind of faith I don’t know how to have. It’s a faith to be admired, to aspire to, but it’s also the kind of faith that has the ability to make me feel like a failure. In the areas of my life, most specifically the area of singleness, where nothing seems to be worked out and I don’t know if or when it will or in what way, I desperately want to be able to have a “But even if he does not” kind of faith.
But it’s also the kind of faith that can drop me to my knees, unable to breathe for the realness and rawness of the ache of the unanswereds and unknowns.
Because one of my frustrations with being single is the expansive uncertainty inherent in it. I may have already met the guy I’ll one day marry, or I might meet him in two days or two years, or I may never meet the right guy at the right time and I will spend the rest of my life single, only ever wanting and hoping for things to be different.
I have no way of knowing.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego didn’t know what their outcome would be either, yet they found a way to trust God anyway.
God’s goodness, his trustworthiness, his lovingness do not depend on him doing what I want him to do. He is all of those things and so much more, always and forever, independent of my wishes or the actions he does or doesn’t take in my life. His goodness doesn’t depend on whether or not he brings me a husband.
Those are such easy words to type, and seem laughably simple–of course God’s intrinsic nature doesn’t change based on whether or not I get married. My ability to trust in his goodness sometimes seems to though.
A “But even if he does not” kind of faith fully recognizes God’s ability to grant me what I desire, while simultaneously recognizing and not shying away from the truth that God’s will may not match up with my own.
And if that is the case, I am the one who has to change, not him.
Til next time…
p.s. Does your ability to trust in God’s goodness sometimes hinge on whether or not he’s acting as you’d like him to?