“Even If” is the title of two songs that came on the radio while we were in the van this week. I thought it funny that both songs had the same name and a similar message. While Joshua and Micah argued in the back over whether or not there was a black dog in the neighbor’s yard and Caleb randomly listed facts he remembered about his favorite singers, my mind wandered to the Old Testament and the beloved story from Daniel chapter 3.
The story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego and the fiery furnace is often one of the first Bible stories we teach our children. It is easy to embrace the wicked king ruling with a rod of iron and the brave men of God standing strong in faith. We rejoice as God miraculously delivers them from the giant flames.
A true testament to our loving and all powerful God. He is one who rewards the faithful and delivers us out of our troubles.
For me, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego’s proclamation of faith when threatened to be thrown into the fire is the best part of the story.
What Can We Learn from Daniel Chapter 3?
“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.” (Daniel 3:17-18)
Here they are saying that they know God is able to deliver them if He chooses to do so, BUT they will remain faithful even if He chooses not to.
I looked up the word “if” in the dictionary and one of the meanings is “allowing that”.
They accepted God’s will before they even knew what it was. They knew the wicked Nebuchadnezzar was only able to do to them what their God allowed. Life and death were in the hands of the real king.
The power of “even if”
What if we viewed all of our situations in the light our friends from Daniel chapter 3 shed? What if Nebuchadnezzar was our fears, worries, anxiety, and stress? Shouldn’t we have the courage to stand before them and declare our faith in a living, all powerful God? “Even if” will be our proclamation of faith, our stand against the enemy. Can we boldly confess that we believe God is in control and then be at peace even when threatened with fire.
We would walk through the fire and not be burned, standing strong in the knowledge that whatever happens, we need only to trust and obey! We would sleep at night, not trying to control what is out of our hands. Living in the present and seeking God’s will for each day would be our focus, leaving no thought to a painful past or uncertain future.
Enter one of my favorite verses.
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you. (Isaiah 43:1-2)
Who Was the Fourth Man in Daniel 3?
While the point I want to make is that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego’s hearts were in the right place, we cannot overlook the fourth man in the fire. Not only did the fire not burn them, but they had a visitor in their midst. Who was he?
Some will tell you that it was Jesus, others believe it to have been an angel. In either case, it was the presence of God. And why was the presence of God in the fire with them?
Because God has promised never to leave us nor forsake us. He is with His children through the good and the bad. He is here to defend us, fight for us, encourage us, and wrap us in His love and grace. His words to Joshua stand true for us today.
Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
Jesus understood the “even if”
Jesus taught us to view life through our faith. This life is not laced with worry and anxiety because we have confidence that we are being taken care of. Just like our brave Hebrews in ancient Babylon, true heros from Daniel chapter 3. Jesus encourages us in Matthew.
“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
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“So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin;
and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’
For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
And these last two verses continue our point from Daniel chapter 3. Our 3 Hebrew friends knew the secret to seeking first the kingdom of God. Their focus was in the correct place.
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:25-34)
Facing Our Fears is Not Easy
I have many of them and my anxiety is overwhelming at times. I do not wish to pretend that I awake with each sunrise full of the courage necessary to face my Nebuchadnezzar. “Even if” is a concept my heart longs to embrace. Maybe the secret lies in seeking the kingdom of God. If our vision is not clouded by our fears, sadness, and anxiety we can with more confidence say “our God is able to deliver us.”
I received many encouraging and thoughtful comments after my last (depressing!) post. This week it is your turn to be encouraged. Whatever you are facing today, may it be your Nebuchadnezzar but may you have the faith of our Hebrew friends from Daniel chapter 3 and say “even if”!
Here are the two songs we listened to. I hope they encourage you where you are!