What do you do when God doesn't show up for you? When you've prayed and prayed for him to do a miracle and he doesn't?
I've been thinking a lot about this lately, and I want to share with you some of the things I've learned. Over the next few weeks, I'll be looking at a few Biblical figures who went through difficult situations. Each of these people went through a difficult circumstance in which God could have stepped in and saved them but for some reason chose not to.
To start, let's look at Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from the book of Daniel. Here's a summary of what happened:
The Babylonians (and King Nebuchadnezzar) defeated Israel and forced many of the Israelites into captivity. Among these were Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. In chapter 3, Nebuchadnezzar set up an image of gold and required all of the people in his kingdom to bow down to it. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused. Their refusal, of course, infuriated Nebuchadnezzar. He called them in and gave them one more chance to bow down. If they refused again, he told them he would throw them into the fiery furnace. Here's their response to Nebuchadnezzar's threat:
"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 3:17-18, emphasis mine).
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego believed that God would save them. "He will deliver us," they said. Not might or could, but will. They trusted that God would save them.
I think we could take a lesson from that. When I pray, I often lack that kind of faith. Maybe it's because I've been let down before. Or maybe it's because I'm scared of being let down again. Whatever the reason, I often fail to really believe that God is going to come through for me. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego believed God would save them.
But don't stop there. Look at what they said next: Even if he does not.
They believed God would save them (and probably prayed like they believed), but stood firm that even if he chose not to save them, they would not bow. Even if God let them die in the fire, they would not turn their backs on him. They would be faithful, regardless.
As we've started thinking about trying again for another baby, I can't help but ask myself if I would be as faithful. Would I refuse to bow, even if God does not give us a healthy pregnancy? Would I be faithful even if it doesn't seem like He is?
What's interesting about this text is that God did eventually save Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. But it was only after they had walked through the fire.
I think it's the same for us. Eventually, if we remain faithful, God is going to make everything right. Eventually. But that doesn't mean we won't have to walk through the fire first.