But If Not
You know the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego. They were three friends of Daniel who were in Babylonian captivity. They refused to bow down to Nebuchadnezzar’s image of gold. These faithful young men determined to follow God at the risk of losing their lives. Hear their words to the king: “… 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.” (Daniel 3:17) The next verse begins with three simple, yet deeply profound words, “But if not.” They were expressing confidence in God’s ability to meet their need for deliverance in the way they expected. But if not, they would still trust and serve God.
This story challenges us to examine our faith when dealing with difficult and trying circumstances. What is our attitude and response when the God who is able to deliver us does not respond in the way we expected? If God has the power to remove suffering but chooses not to, can we trust His sovereignty and goodness? These are honest questions that life’s harsh realities force us to consider.
I believe the Bible teaches us to have absolute trust in God. The Scriptures affirm the love, mercy and goodness of God. The Bible also puts life in an eternal perspective. This means that not every question will be answered here and now. Not every injustice will be rectified in this lifetime. We will be blessed if we come to the point of trusting that God truly knows best. This truth is expressed in the words of St. Paul. “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we shall see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.” (I Cor. 13:12 NLT)
Just be reminded that our “but if not” can sometimes be an opportunity for us to grow in faith and deepen our love for the Lord.