The story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abdendego has long been a favorite of Sunday School teachers and flannel graphs. Few things can capture a child’s imagination like the fiery tale of 3 boys thrown into an inferno only to be rescued by God. The older I get, however, the more I’m convinced that the really instructive part of that story happens before the young men ever enter their intended execution chamber. After all, the fact that God, the Creator of the Universe and Commander of all living things, can save three young men from the flame’s intended damage shouldn’t come as a surprise to us. What is unexpected is that there were three young men willing to risk their lives in order to remain faithful to their Lord. It’s their ability to trust, regardless of the assurance of their rescue, that serves as a reminder of how we should live.
As they boldly state in Daniel 3:16:b-18:
“O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 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.” [emphasis mine]
Can you imagine? They knew that God could alter their circumstances, but regardless of whether or not He did, they were going to trust in Him. And while most of us probably won’t face the flames of government injustice anytime soon, we likely have our own situation that we need to display this type of faith.
I want to get married, but if not, I will trust that God’s plan is better than mine.
I want to have children, but if not, I know that God is faithful still.
I want to achieve success in my field, but if not, I believe that God will use me in whatever way brings Him the most glory.
And the list could go on and on.
We all have our own “but if not” circumstances in our lives – situations where we need to have confidence in what God can do, and even if He chooses not to do it, we choose to trust in His wise and loving plan.