But If Not…

To have true biblical faith takes strength and courage, even in the worst of life’s circumstances. I believe that faith is not simply a belief that everything will work out, but that everything will work out for the best. We must hold onto the belief that God is God and He has our best interest at heart, no matter the diagnosis, the turmoil, the rejection, the pain, the loss, or the proverbial cross we must bear.

Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as “The substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (KJV). Thus, faith is not seeing, but believing. In fact, the Greek word for “substance” is Hupostasis (Strong’s #5287), which in this instance means, “a standing under…that which stands, or is set, under, a foundation, beginning, hence, the quality of confidence which leads one to stand under, endure, or undertake anything.” Faith serves as the foundation of our spiritual house, with Christ being the chief cornerstone. As with our physical homes, if the foundation is strong, the house will stand strong. However, if our foundation is cracked or destroyed, our house faces the possibility of falling down.

If we pray for something that is in God’s will, He hears us and answers our prayers (1 John 5:14-15).  We pray with confidence that God will say “yes,” but will we have the same confidence if God says, “No” or “Not yet?” With humanity’s modern knowledge and technology, we sometimes live under the impression that we have complete control over our lives and environments. Of course, we know that life has a not so subtle way of reminding us who is in charge.

The Bible and history are full of examples of people who kept their faith in God and continued to hope in the worst of circumstances. Three such people were Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the Book of Daniel. The Book of Daniel takes place during the reigns of the Babylonian and Mede-Persian empires. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, along with Daniel, were Hebrew youths sent into exile in Babylon to serve King Nebuchadnezzar, but the four men faithfully continued to serve God.

Daniel chapter three details how Nebuchadnezzar set up a large golden statue that everyone within the Babylon Empire had to worship when they heard the sound of music. If one did not worship the golden statue, that person would be thrown into a fiery furnace. One day it is brought to Nebuchadnezzar’s attention that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego have refused to worship his golden statue. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are brought before Nebuchadnezzar to face their charges. Nebuchadnezzar reminded them of his authority as king and the punishment they faced for not worshipping the statue. What follows is an example of true faith.

“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O King. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18, NKJV, italics mine).

This statement enraged Nebuchadnezzar and he ordered the furnace to be seven times hotter than usual and had the three men thrown into the furnace. However, what happened next was a miracle as Nebuchadnezzar saw a fourth man in the fire (a pre-incarnate Christ) and that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were unharmed by the fire. This experience humbled Nebuchadnezzar and he made a decree stating that there was no one should speak against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were also promoted due to their faithfulness.

In the case of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, God intervened supernaturally to deliver his children, but the three men were willing to make their stand no matter the consequences. But if not. What is your but if not? It was not doubt or a lack of faith displayed by Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, but a solid belief in God and acceptance of His will, not matter the circumstances, no matter the cost.

Is your foundation strong? Do you have the faith to endure the trials of ongoing sickness when you have prayed for supernatural healing? Do you have the patience and discipline to recover from a job loss or being on the brink of financial ruin? Will you continue to pray for wayward spouses and children who may be prodigals who do not come back home? Do you have the faith to stand up for Christ while facing a fiery furnace, a gun, or the edge of a sword? Do you have the courage to say, “But if not” and continue to praise and worship God?

A word of caution: under no circumstances should we as believers ever question anyone’s faith. The Bible teaches that everyone is given a measure of faith, which does not indicate the same amount of faith. To say to a struggling brother or sister, “If you only had more faith,” is not only devastating, but also insensitive. Making such a statement as “If you only had more faith,” could invite discouragement and condemnation into a believer’s life.

We must examine faith from the perspective that we will go through unending trials. We may navigate the raging sea only to learn that we must climb a mountain. We cannot control outside events, we can only control our responses to the events. Let us find inspiration in what we have overcome to this point in our lives. Let us look to Christ, to the Apostles, to Job, Daniel in the lion’s den, Jeremiah, and the “faith hall of fame” in Hebrews chapter 11.

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2, NKJV).

God bless you all.

 

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