Tuesday, March 17, 2015

...But If Not

Today I was reading the Bible story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego to my son from a book of illustrated scripture stories that we keep in the living room.

Quick summary: these guys were Hebrews brought to Babylon's court as kids and raised to be the king's servants. They grew up and were put in positions of at least some power, when some (probably jealous) people threw them under the bus by pointing out to the king that they weren't following the law about worshiping the statue he'd built for that purpose. The penalty for disobeying was death by dry sauna in the king's furnaces.

As a kid, the story I learned always went something like, "but Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego weren't afraid, because they knew that the Lord would protect them."

But If Not -- God doesn't always deliver people immediately from their trials. It takes trust and perspective to be able to pray for something and then add "but if not" and mean it, like we learn from the Old Testament account of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
From our illustrated scripture story book:
Our 3 protagonists standing before the flying purple people-eater  I mean, the king.

But actually, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego didn't know that the Lord would protect them. Before they were thrown into the furnace they were taken to the king for one last chance. They told him,

"If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace; and he will deliver us out of thy hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee , O king, that we will not serve thy gods , nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up." (Daniel 3: 17-18.)

As you can imagine, this wasn't quite what the king wanted to hear and so off they went to the furnace.

In that particular instance, God did save them. An angel appeared in the furnace and even though the temperature was so hot it killed the guards standing outside, it didn't hurt Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego.

But judging from their response to the king, they were probably hauled off to the furnace knowing there was a good chance they weren't going to be walking back out of it. They knew that God could save them, but they didn't know that He would.

But If Not -- God doesn't always deliver people immediately from their trials. It takes trust and perspective to be able to pray for something and then add "but if not" and mean it, like we learn from the Old Testament account of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}


It's a hard thing to know that sometimes, God doesn't stop bad things from happening. Loved ones get sick and might even die, even though we're praying for their speedy recovery. People struggle with chronic illnesses or infertility their whole lives, and might never be healed.

At the end of His life on this earth, Christ Himself prayed, "Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done" (Luke 22: 42.) He wasn't spared from the ultimate suffering of shouldering the sins of every person who ever lived simultaneously. I can imagine that compared to this, being burned alive in a furnace would've seemed like a picnic luncheon straight out of Downton Abbey.

Sometimes when I pray for safety or health (for myself or someone else,) I'm afraid to include the "but if not" in my prayers. I'm trying to get better at that, and the times when I've been able to say it and really mean it, I've felt an overwhelming sense of peace regardless of the outcome.

It takes a lot of trust and perspective to be able to say what Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego said. Apparently they knew that God doesn't always deliver us from our trials immediately, but eventually He'll make everything right.

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17 comments:

  1. Such a good post. It's really not something brought up too much as part of the story, but maybe it's the most important part.

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    1. From time to time I like to pick random "popular" stories from the scriptures and actually read them from the source, so I know what actually happened vs. just the reader's digest version in Veggie Tales.

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  2. These stories teach us valuable lessons about life, and how to deal with challenges we face. #sharewithme

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  3. Yes! How often do we really hear people pray, "Thy will be done."??? Almost never in my life. Your post is a great reminder that if we do and we mean it, we will always feel good about it.

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    1. A lesson I continue to learn over and over!

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  4. and being "not afraid" is such a reminder. they were believers, completely! as fear is the opposite of faith, being not afraid is a wise, trusting and beautiful, place to be.
    thanks for the read!

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  5. A good story to teach a good lesson. Thanks for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme

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  6. This is the most important part of that story. What a great write up! It truly is scary to add the "But if's" to our prayers, the hardest part. We know that God's plan is all knowing and that he is a loving Father who wants the best for us, but still it is so hard to relinquish control completely to him. I guess that is part of the journey of faith and learning we each have to experience.

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  7. Jenny, it's so lovely to "meet you" through Faith-Filled Friday today! This OT story has always challenged me when I am in a "fiery season." Their faith is amazing -- I want to be that confident and resolute in my walk, rather than freaking out and worrying. I am so glad He is patient with me.

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  8. Amen, Amen and Amen Jenny. Well put and absolutely true. You brought up the most important part of the story that we all need to understand to live our life wanting, 'His will, now our will be done'. Thank you for sharing. Stopping by from Family Free For All. Carrie, A Mother's Shadow

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  9. Great lesson. Thank you so much for sharing this bit of information with us. It is so easy to get caught up in trying to live out our lives the way we want instead of following God's will for our lives. I think we all would take time to stop and listen we'd be better off for doing it. Thank you for this wonderful reminder of that fact.

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  10. A very hard lesson for children to understand, never mind adults. There doesn't always have to be an answer to everything. Otherwise, what would be the point of faith?

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  11. Thanks for sharing on Monday Madness link party! Hope to see you there next week :)

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  12. This is so true. I just bore testimony about this exact thing today! Thanks so much for sharing it with me. Enjoy your evening!

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  13. This is something I struggle with. I'm a "Get To Work And Make It Happen" kind of girl. Through our struggle with infertility I learned that I can't just make stuff happen by wanting it badly enough. I also learned that when I finally let go enough to let Heavenly Father take control things turn out better than my plan would have allowed. Thanks for this post! I needed a reminder (again).

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    1. Me, too. It wasn't until my first miscarriage that I even realized how little control I have over my family shape and size, and that God is in control.

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  14. Perfect timing on this for me. I have been praying so hard for my daughters knee surgery tomorrow to get her healed enough to play sports but if not to help her deal with the disappointment.

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