“Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king, and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel 3:13-18 NIV
“But even if He does not…” those words bounce around every corner of my mind whenever I read this story. One of my favorite books to read as a teenager was written by dc Talk and The Voice of The Martyrs entitled, Jesus Freaks: Stories of Those Who Stood for Jesus, the Ultimate Jesus Freaks. The stories inside this book significantly impacted my faith; inspiring me to live with the same kind of boldness but…I was also a teen with my whole life ahead of me. Maybe, God wouldn’t need me to be a martyr for him and I could graduate high school, find a job, get married, have children, and so on. After all, I had plans for my life.
The passion was certainly there, but the commitment? Not so much.
I was fine with checking the “good church kid” boxes: no drugs, no alcohol, abstain from sex until marriage. These sounded like sound advice with or without God, but did God really expect me to lay down my life for him if the moment presented itself?
Fast forward twenty years to today and I find myself in a much different place in regards to faith. Not only have I read stories of individuals who have faced unimaginable circumstances without compromising their faith; I have lived through some of my own difficult situations which strengthened my trust in God. In addition, as a ghostwriter and editor, I have been able to speak with individuals firsthand about their own life experiences which seem almost unreal in comparison to my quiet corner of life. Despite abusive spouses, death of their child or children, life threatening medical results, or even encounters with hitmen, these people have continued to seek God and his plan for their lives.
Faith in God, unlike any other religion, is a unique relational experience. There are those who experience bad times, reject who God claims to be, and walk away. Then there are those who experience bad times, stand fast on who God claims to be, and continue on.
I can think of many times when God has opened amazing opportunities in my life and they are fun and exciting to share. What I am trying to be better about is sharing the times that weren’t so fun and exciting, the times I felt alone and abandoned by God yet clung to the tiny speck of faith which led me to believe He would work all things together for good (Romans 8:28). Or, the times when I knew I was making the wrong decision, continued on despite of it, faced the consequences and had to wrestle with the guilt and shame of knowing He still loved a wretch like me. The realization was overwhelming, why such a reckless display of love?
Clinging to faith in hard times is not easy. I am not a strong person but I have tasted and seen His goodness; nothing on earth compares. The finest foods, an intimate moment with my spouse, the laughter of my children. While all of these bring delight in the moment, they also bring with them the stark reality that my life here will one day end. Making it easier and easier to embrace the word of these men faced with a situation where it seemed everything was against them, “But even if He does not do what we would like Him to do, we will not compromise.”