“Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, ‘King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us[a] 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.’”
Remember this story from Vacation Bible School? Rack, Shack, and Benny anyone?
I don’t know about you, but…now, in adulthood, this furnace feels all too real. If you’re in a ‘furnace’ that you desperately want God to deliver you from, (a job, a season, a storm), and you believe you have been given a promise from Him, let’s dig into this text for a bit. What did those Hebrew boys say again?
“He will. But even if He doesn’t…He will still be praised.”
As I wait on God’s promise, I find myself resting in the “even if He doesn’t”. It feels like a safer place than “He will” – because when I find peace in the possibility that He won’t, I feel I’ve made progress. I feel that, though I’ve been waiting and hoping for something that God has promised for years, if it doesn’t happen, I’ll be cool with that.
I camp in the “He won’t” camp. I build my tent in the place where God doesn’t deliver on promises; and I feel faithful.
…yeah, that’s not gonna work.
I hear the Holy Spirit say on behalf of the Father;
“Even if He doesn’t”, does not mean, “He won’t”.
I am and I will.
Why is this distinction between “Even if He doesn’t” and “He won’t” so important? Why does this matter so much?
It matters because one sentiment expresses faith, while the other expresses fear. And, without faith, it is impossible to please God.
It also matters because faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not yet seen. We haven’t seen the finish line – therefore, we don’t know for sure if He will or if He won’t! But to flat out say, “He won’t”, does not prove your faith – it proves your doubt – because it is deduced by the evidence of things seen.
“He won’t” says this: “I haven’t seen it. Therefore, He won’t.”
Newsflash: you’re judging by what you’ve seen. No expectancy, no wisdom, no sacrifice of praise, no faith.
In fact, by saying “He won’t”, (BUT DON’T FORGET, Y’ALL – I’LL STILL PRAISE HIM), is like saying you’re the faithful one and God is not!
Here is a trustworthy saying:
If we died with him,
we will also live with him;
If we endure,
we will also reign with him.
If we disown him,
he will also disown us;
if we are faithless,
he remains faithful,
for he cannot disown himself.
One last time, all together now! “Even if He doesn’t” does not mean “He won’t”.
“Even if He doesn’t” means that He doesn’t need to prove His faithfulness to you – because He already did that on the cross.
God’s faithfulness was fulled through the body and blood of Jesus Christ. All of God’s promises are yes and amen in Jesus! Therefore, even if He doesn’t do whatever you want Him to do – or, whatever He’s promised He’ll do – He’s still faithful. For God demonstrates His love for us in this: not by fulfilling all our desires, but in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Keep your gaze there – on the cross. Nothing more, nothing less. He is faithful, nonetheless.
And don’t forget to praise Him!