August 30, 2013
If God Does Not Rescue Us
"If the God we serve exists, then He can rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and He can rescue us from the power of you, the king. But even if He does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods ..." Daniel 3:17-18a (HCSB)
She whisked the tears away fast, like a sailor scooping water from a sinking ship. My friend was trying hard to keep her heart from going under.
She'd been carrying the joy of what she thought was a new life on the way. But this was a hope to be deferred. It wasn't time. She wasn't sure if it'd ever be time.
Desperate aches to hold a baby of her own had begun to dictate her thoughts, emotions and actions. And she recognized she had to face a few big questions before they consumed her.
Would her longing to rest her cheek against a soft head crowd out her praise to God? Might her days be full of trust in Him, even if her womb remained empty? Could she stand in awe of all God had already done ... or would she bow to discontentment and disbelief in His goodness and power?
As she sat with me, my friend knew it was time to stand and face the music. Much like three young Israelite men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, did in the book of Daniel.
These Israelites had been captured by the Babylonians. Many years into their captivity, the fanatical King Nebuchadnezzar held a ceremony. To fulfill his craving to be feared and obeyed, he demanded the people bow and worship a 90-foot golden idol when special music was played. If they didn't, death by a scorching furnace was certain.
Everyone kneeled facedown; everyone but these three men of God. They stood above the crowd and literally faced the music.
Going against the royal edict had sealed their fate, or so the king thought. Scripture tells the rest of their story: "Then in a furious rage Nebuchadnezzar gave orders to bring in Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. ... 'if you don't worship it, you will immediately be thrown into a furnace of blazing fire—and who is the god who can rescue you from my power?'" (v. 13a, 15b HCSB).
Little did the king realize the depth of confidence these men had in their God. They knew their fate was held by Him, not determined by the king's whims. Listen to how they responded. "If the God we serve exists, then He can rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and He can rescue us from the power of you, the king.
But even if He does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods ..." (v. 16b-18a HCSB)
Their strong rebuttal threw cold water on the king's burning demands. I love their resolute belief. Especially because the word rescue in this context indicates possibility, not certainty.
They were assured in knowing that God possibly would ... and definitely could ... but He certainly might not save them.
God miraculously rescuing them from the antics of Nebuchadnezzar wasn't their focus. Instead, they fixed their hearts on the fact God is good and wise and can be trusted, no matter the outcome. They stood against the lure to desire anything—even their lives—more than God.
Almost a year after our conversation, I spotted my friend at church. I knew it hadn't been an easy year for her. Though her arms still didn't hold a baby, she was clinging tightly to her God—facing the music, remaining faithful. She was worshiping with all her heart.
God, sometimes I don't understand Your ways. They fly in the face of my desires. Help me recognize doubt, frustration and fear as an indication that I am longing for something more than I long for You. Help me trust and love You. Amen.
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Reflect and Respond:
Take a moment to feel the gravity of the declaration Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego made: "But even if He does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods ..."
Is there a desire of your heart that God has not granted? What would change if you actively chose to long for God more than that desire?
Mark 12:30, "And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength." (NLT)
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