But If Not

If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” – Daniel 3:17-18

If you grew up in church, like I did, then you are familiar with the story of the fiery furnace in Daniel chapter 3. Maybe you were taught the story on a flannelgraph poster in kid’s ministry, or maybe you watched the VeggieTales episode on VHS. It’s just one of those Old Testament stories that we like to teach kids at a young age. We like to share of the powerful faith of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the face of certain death from Nebachadezzar. 

With the threat of being burned alive, Daniel 3:17-18 is their response to the demand to worship a false god, or die. A powerful phrase mentioned in the statement they offer that always serves as a check on my soul is, “but if not.” They are telling King Nebachadezzar that God can deliver them from death, and they would praise Him for this. But if God does not save them, they will still serve, obey, and worship God, despite the circumstances. They will obey God no matter what happens.

I look towards my own heart when I read that story. Do I praise God even when bad things happen, or only when things are going well for me? Do I worship and love God when He chooses not to answer my prayer request, or only when He does answer them according to my will? The attitude I have when God does not do what I want, is extremely telling of my spiritual maturity and faith. Dear friends, do we have the faith and strength to pray, “God, I ask that you would *insert request.* But if not, I will still praise You, give You glory, and love You.”

I will pray day after day for my loved one to be healed from his or her sickness, and I will give God all the glory if He does. But, if God does not heal, then I will still praise Him and give Him glory. It may be hard to do so, but it is our duty as Christians to praise God in both the highs and lows, the mountains and the valleys. Friends, do we possess faith and devotion as strong as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abendigo? In the face of certain death, they were ready to give God all the glory in any circumstance. May that be said of us as well. May we live lives that will be a testament to the glory of God, and absolute faithfulness to His will, despite whatever circumstances may come our way.

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