Do you all know the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? Basically, three men refused to worship a golden statue of the king and their punishment was death by furnace. Nebuchadnezzar, the king, taunts the men and tells them that no god can save them. The men replied:
“If the God we serve exists, then he can rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and he can rescue us from the power of you, the king. But even if he does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.” –Daniel 3:17-18
God has the power to save, but these men didn’t know if He would utilize that power. When they are thrown into the furnace, Nebuchadnezzar becomes alarmed because he sees a fourth man in the furnace along with the accused. It turns out to be an angel of God. The three men walk out of the furnace unharmed, and the twisted king converts.
A touching story, right?
But what would have happened if God didn’t save them?
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego said it themselves: God might not save us, but we will still refuse to give up our faith.
In daily life we like to think that we know best. We follow our routines and do our jobs, and if something goes wrong we pray for the outcome we desire. Here’s the problem: the outcome we desire isn’t always the perfect outcome that God has planned.
This month I’ve been struggling with making a big life choice, and I’ve been praying for God to give me some sort of guidance. That’s the outcome I wanted: guidance from God so that I wouldn’t have to make the decision myself. God is capable of delivering that guidance, but it didn’t come. I became more anxious and confused with each “unanswered” prayer, and began to feel abandoned by God. But here’s the thing: just because I didn’t get my desired outcome doesn’t mean that God is no longer present.
I didn’t get my desired outcome, but He is still good.
By definition, God is good. Whatever He desires is the ultimate good, even when that doesn’t match up with what I want. We have to remember that God lives outside of space and time and can see the entire picture, while we live these finite little pieces of the gigantic complete puzzle. God works all things together for good, even when we can’t see it. He is there with us, even when we can’t see Him.
Think of all of the times when God didn’t give you what you wanted. Were you angry and resentful, hurt and confused, or were you trusting and loving towards the One who is the ultimate good? I know I have been guilty many times of harboring doubt and negativity when things don’t work out how I prayed they would.
Having unconditional trust in God is very difficult, especially when you’re struggling to see Him move in your life. If you are struggling with this, please don’t struggle alone. Often we can only be turned back to God by seeing how He works in others, and that is only possible in community.
This week I will be focusing on placing all trust in God, and I pray that you would do the same. Walk with me, please.