But If Not…
17 If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. 18 But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” (Daniel 3:17-18)
It’s not easy to relinquish control of our situations to God. We were brought up believing we must do this and we must do that to fix a situation. We must not sit and do nothing because God is waiting on us to do something and walk in faith. Yet, sometimes, that’s what walking in faith is…doing nothing and allowing God to work so HE will get the glory and not us. What happens if God chooses not to answer our prayers as we would like them answered but instead has us walking through the fire? Do we crumble or do we walk through it in faith? Are we able to pray “God, deliver me from this situation, but if not, I will still continue to believe and have faith in You.”
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego refused to bow their knee to another god, the king’s god. Certain people went to the king and informed him of this and king Nebuchadnezzar called the three men to him and questioned them. He even gave them another chance with a warning:
15 Now if you are ready at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, and you fall down and worship the image which I have made, good! But if you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?” (Daniel 3:15)
But, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego were not willing to turn their backs on God and bow to another god. They knew their God and loved Him. They were loyal to their God and they knew how powerful He was. They quickly replied:
“O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. 18 But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” (vs 16-17)
But if not. Some people would think Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego didn’t seem to have much faith. In one breath, they are declaring that God will deliver them from the burning fiery furnace and from the king’s hand. But in another breath, they are saying “but if not, we still aren’t going to serve your gods or worship the image you set up. Nope, not gonna do it.” So does this mean their faith is shaky? Not in the least! It means they know who their God is and that they have faith in Him no matter what He chooses to do. They have faith that God can rescue them, but if He chooses not to rescue them, then they will not lose their faith in Him nor turn away from Him just because He may not have answered their prayers the way they wanted. They knew that no matter what happens, God would be glorified in the situation. They knew that even if God chose not to answer their prayers, their faith would remain strong in Him.
Sometimes, God chooses differently than what we want for a reason we are unable to see at the time. He knows more than we do and can see further ahead than we can. Sometimes our prayers may not be answered the way we want because we must stand in the fiery furnace in faith in order for God to be glorified.
19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury, and the expression on his face changed toward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. He spoke and commanded that they heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated. 20 And he commanded certain mighty men of valor who were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, and cast them into the burning fiery furnace. (vs 19-20)
Sometimes, God won’t deliver us from the trial but will stand with us during it. And when the heat is turned up, He will be there protecting us from getting burned by the fire.
23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace .24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished; and he rose in haste and spoke, saying to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” 25 “Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.” (vs 25).
When we are loyal to God, He will be loyal to us. He may not answer our prayers the way we would like and keep us from encountering the situation, but He will stand with us in the midst of it and protect us from the heat. The final outcome? God receiving the glory!
28 Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who sent His Angel[g] and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God! 29 Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation, or language which speaks anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made an ash heap; because there is no other God who can deliver like this.” 30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego in the province of Babylon.
Not only did God receive wondrous glory from this situation, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego were promoted.
There will be times we may not understand why our prayers aren’t answered or why things don’t turn out the way we think they should and it can shake up our faith a bit. But we must realize that God can say no or He can choose to do something differently because His way will better glorify Him and will be a better choice for us in the long run. Even in saying “no” He will provide a better route or outcome.
Lord, please heal my loved one from cancer and do not let them die, but if not, I will still believe in You.
Lord, please do not let my husband/wife leave me for this other person, but if not, then I believe whatever happens will be the best outcome for for my life.
Lord, please do not let me lose my job during this turnover at work, but if not, then I still believe you will provide for my family and will bring along a better job for me.
But if not…this doesn’t mean our faith is shaky. It means our faith will still remain strong no matter how God chooses to glorify Himself. In the end, when we are obedient, God will bless us.