Wednesdays with Jillene: …even if he doesn’t…

There are moments in life when all we are left with is: God is still God. He is still good. God still loves me and I know His plans for me are good…

even when…

Even when it hurts.

Even when I’ve lost something so dear to me.

Even when everything is falling apart around me.

Even when I can’t see how anything good can come from this desperation.

Even when the thing I want most slips out of reach.

Even when my heart-felt, heart-wrenching prayers have gone unanswered.

Even when life doesn’t go the way I think it should/want it to go/hope it would be/dreamed it could go/prayed it would happen… even then God is still God. He is still good. God still loves me and I know His plans for me are good.

But will I still choose Him?

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego faced a trial beyond my comprehension. Do you know their story told in Daniel 3? The great king Nebuchadnezzar, well, he had grown really, really great and not just in his own eyes. But, in order to ensure the people’s devotion, he decreed (fancy way of saying demanded by law) that ALL people bow to a HUGE (really big: 90 ft. tall) statue and worship. And these three guys? They wouldn’t do it. They wouldn’t betray the commands of the Lord God by bowing in worship of any other god. The punishment: death by fiery furnace.

Obey the king… or die.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego? They chose to obey God. Nebuchadnezzar? Refusing to back down, he gave them one more chance, with a little taunt thrown in for good measure, “But if you refuse, you will be thrown immediately into the blazing furnace. And then what god will be able to rescue you from my power?”

And those three guys faced with imminent, certain death… They chose to remain faithful to God.

16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty.

You probably know how the rest of the story goes: Nebuchadnezzar = out-of-his-mind-crazy-mad orders the furnace heated 7 times hotter, throws the men in, takes a look and is like, “Um… guys, didn’t we tie up and throw 3 guys in? Why are there 4 walking around, unbound… in the fire?” Because GOD saved them. We know that: God saved them.

But there is a verse I left out in the middle of all of that. Let’s read it again with verse 18 included this time.

16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. 18 But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”

19 Nebuchadnezzar was so furious with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that his face became distorted with rage. He commanded that the furnace be heated seven times hotter than usual.

Did you see it? Did their response hit you as hard as it does me? That whole even if he doesn’t… we still choose God!

You know, it is an act of true faith to respond when life goes awry that “God is still God. He is still good. God still loves me and I know His plans for me are good.” Equally challenging is continuing then to make the choice to remain steadfast in choosing God in the face of the unknown, possibly painful, seemingly uncertain, potentially disappointing alternatives set in front of us.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego faced what looked like certain death. They knew God was able to save them but even if he didn’t they vowed they wouldn’t cave to other gods to save them. The wouldn’t give in to something else that was a seemingly sure bet that they’d be saved. Nebuchadnezzar offered them a way out. All they had to do was bow. The could have chosen to bow while saying to themselves, “We bowed with our bodies but our hearts are fully for the Lord.” “Surely God wouldn’t want us to die! Let’s figure out how we can get out of this.”

Nope. They chose to remain faithful to God with the assurance that God was able to save them and faced it all with resolve to remain faithful even if he doesn’t…

Gosh… that hits a liiiittttle close to home. Because there are those awful-to-live-through times when God doesn’t answer as we want… do we take matters into our own hands? Do we come up with our own reasoning on how to understand this situation? Do we use other means to get around what God hasn’t done for us? Do we force what we want to happen, what seems good to happen, what we want to happen, what we need to happen… when it doesn’t seem as though God will come through for us?

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego didn’t. And it wasn’t because they knew the end result. The story hadn’t been written yet. They didn’t know what the outcome would be. In fact, they faced the reality of that fiery furnace. What about in my trials? Can I say even if he doesn’t God is still God. He is still good. God still loves me and I know His plans for me are good. And we choose to love and be faithful to Him.

There are so many times in my life I find I am like the father who came to Jesus seeking healing for his son in Mark 9.

“But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”

24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

Maybe you’ve had those moments like me when I feel as if life has come to an impasse and I know that with God all things are possible… but I am left with doubt. So, out of my faith-doubt, I cry out to God just as that father did. “Lord, I believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” I believe and I doubt.

But this whole even if he doesn’t takes my faith to a whole different level. It is a choice that recognizes that even if God doesn’t do what I know that God is able to do… that I will choose Him. I won’t seek another way around. I won’t abandon God. Even if he doesn’t I will still love and choose to be faithful to him. 

What a challenge that is to me today. How about in your life? What circumstances are you facing that you know God is able to save you/work out as you’d like/fix things that are broken/do immeasurably more than you could ask or imagine? How can you faithfully face those situations choosing that even if he doesn’t you will love him, trust him and choose to continue faithfully living for him?

~Jillene

not my will, but yours be done

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