Daniel 3:14-18 (KJV) Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them … if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. 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 thine 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.
It’s a familiar story: Nebuchadnezzar sent a decree to all the people that they were to bow before his golden image, but Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego refused to bow. Their faith gave them such great confidence they didn’t even have to think about their answer to the king. There was no group huddle, no time-out for a game plan. They said, “We are not careful to answer thee in this matter.”
Long before this moment they chose to serve God over anything or anyone else. I believe they made this choice in chapter 1 when they joined Daniel in their purpose not to defile themselves with the king’s meat. They chose to trust God to take care of their physical bodies, and God proved Himself faithful. By the time they got to chapter 3, they knew how great and powerful their God was, and they were willing to give their lives for Him.
When they were threatened with death, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego answered, “Our God is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, but if not, we will not serve thy gods nor the golden image.” They answered in faith, acknowledging God’s ability and sovereignty, and they trusted Him with the outcome. In other words, God can, but He may not. That doesn’t stop him from being the one, true God and the only God worthy of worship.
Have you ever faced a “but if not” moment? But if God doesn’t deliver you from that situation. But if He doesn’t answer the way you want Him to. But if He doesn’t heal you or your loved one. But if He lets you face persecution or death. Faith is what gives us peace in the “but if not” moments. Like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, we must acknowledge God’s ability to perform the miracle we seek and understand His answer may not be what we want. Then we trust the outcome to Him, knowing that His will is perfect and good. That is Faith.
You see, faith says God can, but if not, He is still good.
Faith says God still loves me, even when He answers my prayers in a way I don’t understand.
And Faith says no matter what I face, God is worthy of my love and sacrifice because He loved me and sacrificed Himself for me first.
If you are facing a “but if not” situation, I want to encourage you to remember the goodness of God. He can see the other side of your situation, and He knows exactly what you need. Keep praying, and keep trusting the outcome to Him. God can, but if not, He is still worthy of our worship.