AN “EVEN IF…” FAITH
Many today hold secret attitudes of offense toward God. Something happened along the way that in their view went beyond puzzling. It was majorly unfair – and they hold deep-seated feelings of resentment toward God.
Three God-fearing young Hebrew men were hand picked by the invading Babylonians and taken to Babylon to be trained for key positions in King Nebuchadnezzar’s government. They possibly had reason to be offended at God for the twist of fate that found them in a foreign land lorded over by a foreign king. (Daniel 1:1-7) Despite this, they remained loyal to God.
Their loyalty to God put them at risk of being thrown into a fiery furnace for refusing to worship a statue god built by the king. “Your threat means nothing to us,” they told him. “If you throw us in the fire, the God we serve can rescue us from your roaring furnace and anything else you might cook up, O king. But even if he doesn’t, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference, O king. We still wouldn’t serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.” (Daniel 3:1-18 The Message) Talk about gutsy!
When I read the account of these three young men, I’m amazed at the size of their faith. It towered over all the potential disaster that awaited them. Instead of caving in they boldly took their stand. On the issue of loyalties and worship – for them there was no middle ground. It was God or death. An “even if he doesn’t” kind of faith looks beyond trials and hardships and sees a faithful and trustworthy God who holds the final word. It realizes that while trouble is temporary, rewards are eternal.
The long history of the Church is filled with people who had an “…even if He doesn’t” kind of faith. You read about some of them in Hebrews 11. Many were tortured, but they refused to be released. And why? Because “they were sure that they would get a better reward when the dead are raised to life.” (v:35) Countless others were mocked; forced to live in caves or holes in the ground; beaten with whips; chained in jail and stoned to death. Yet the Bible records, “All of them pleased God because of their faith.” (v:39) And what kind of faith did they have? It was an “even if he doesn’t” kind of faith that was anchored in the belief that God is righteous and good in all His ways and can be completely trusted.
In his book “Going Up to Jerusalem” Phillip Brooks urges us “Do not pray for easy lives, pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers, pray for powers equal to your task.” The Bible assures us that “…God is faithful, who will not tempt you beyond what you are able to bear, but will, along with the temptation, make a way of escape that you may be able to bear it.” (I Cor. 10:13)
Be blessed my friend.
The Barnabas Group / Loads of Love