I can remember the days of visiting open homes every weekend when we were looking at buying a house. I can remember this one house we looked at and we both immediately loved it. It was the perfect home for what we were looking for. It was in a great area, had a great back yard. We had it all planned out. We fasted, we prayed, we heard from God and we had started making plans. But come auction day, we didn’t get the house.
We prayed for it, we had faith for it. We fasted. We even got scriptures about it. And still, we didn’t get the house.
Ever been there? Ever been in a place where the outcome you thought was coming, didn’t come? Ever been in the place where the answer you thought was coming, didn’t come? The miracle you thought was coming, didn’t come? The healing you thought was coming, didn’t come. The provision you thought was coming, didn’t come?
What does our faith look like in that place?
You see, many of us were presented with the concept of God when we were very young, at the same time as we were presented with the concept of Santa Claus. As we grew up we matured around our beliefs about Santa Claus but our beliefs about God never evolved. So then when things happen in our world that shake our faith we begin asking adult questions of our childhood God.
For many of us it is really hard to reconcile our current life circumstances with the God that we have been told about growing up. The God we begin believing about in Sunday School is a God who will protect us from bad things, the God who will respond to the fair and selfless requests of those He loves, and the God whose presence will always be felt.
But what happens when bad things actually do happen to good people and when God doesn’t answer our prayer and it feels like He is very far away?
I can remember sitting down the next morning talking to God about the house we missed out on. Feeling disappointed and discouraged. He lead me to this story in Daniel chapter 3. Let me give you a little bit of background before we start reading.
King Nebuchadnezzar had a nine foot golden statue of himself built and placed right in the middle of the land. 90 feet tall, 9 feet wide. He then called all of the officials and leaders and judges and magistrates, and governors and treasurers together. Nebuchadnezzar then made this announcement: Whenever anyone in the land hears the sound of a harp, and horn – any musical instrument they are to bow down to the golden statue. If they refused to bow down they would be thrown into the fiery furnace. At the time of this decree, there were three Jews – Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego – they loved God and God had shown favour on them and they had been placed in charge of all of the affairs of Babylon. When it came time, at the sound of the music, everyone in the land stopped and bowed down and worshipped the statue of King Nebuchadnezzar. All except Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Some of the astrologers came and reported this to the King.
We pick up our reading in verse 12:
“…there are some Jews—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—whom you have put in charge of the province of Babylon. They pay no attention to you, Your Majesty. They refuse to serve your gods and do not worship the gold statue you have set up.” Then Nebuchadnezzar flew into a rage and ordered that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought before him. When they were brought in, Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you refuse to serve my gods or to worship the gold statue I have set up? I will give you one more chance to bow down and worship the statue I have made when you hear the sound of the musical instruments.[f] But if you refuse, you will be thrown immediately into the blazing furnace. And then what god will be able to rescue you from my power?” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” Daniel 3: 12-18
But even if he doesn’t.
They are saying, our God is able to save us! They are also saying that our God will save us. He is both able and willing.
But then there is this famous line, and this is where a lot of people get lost in their faith journey.
God is able, God is willing, but what happens when God doesn’t?
Whats happens when rubber hits the road and your expectation doesn’t line up with your experience?
Shadrach, Mechach and Abednego said, “Even if he doesn’t we will not bow down”. We will not give in, we will not give up!
Even if the answer doesn’t come. Even if God doesn’t do what I want him to do. Even if the miracle doesn’t come as I think it should. Even if the Drs’ report isn’t what I was believing for. Even if my marriage is never restored. Even if my finances still aren’t adding up… I will continue to trust in my God. I will not give in and I will not give up!
Sometimes life requires an Even If faith.
Even If faith. Faith that stands regardless of the outcome. Faith that believes that even if the result wasn’t what you hoped, the best result is still coming.
I don’t know about you but I want some Even If faith today.
Now faith is being sure we will get what we hope for. It is being sure of what we cannot see. Hebrews 11:1 (NLV)
What are you believing for that you can’t see yet? Even If faith is living by the assurance that even if I can’t see Him, He is there. Even if I can’t feel Him, He is there. Even If faith is living by the assurance that despite my circumstances, my surroundings and my emotions, I can still trust in Him.
Even If faith says:
1.My circumstances do not alter His character.
We need to know today that the nature of our circumstances do not change who God is.
The nature of your circumstance does not change the nature of God.
It can be so much easier to acknowledge God’s goodness, mercy, love, power, faithfulness and patience in the good times; when the prayers are being answered how you want them to, when there is a miracle around every corner.
What we need to remember during our more difficult seasons is that our circumstances do not change any of those characteristics about God – He is still good, He is still loving, He is still faithful and He is still able!
Even If faith trusts in His character and not in your circumstance.
His character and his nature is not determined by your circumstances – it remains despite it!
2. My worries do not supersede His Word.
In seasons where, for whatever reason, I am neglecting the word of God, I find I worry more, I fear more and my mind is not at rest from trouble.
Philippians 4 tells us to allow Christ to displace worry from the centre of your life.
We can only do this through the Word of God. Even If faith allows the word of God to be our firm foundation.
“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.” Matthew 7: 24- 27 (NLT)
The word of God lays a foundation – a foundation for moments in life when your house is threatened. Moments where you know that if it weren’t for the solid ROCK beneath your feet, you would be in sinking sand right now.
Don’t build on worry – build on the Word. Don’t build on fear – build on faith!
3. My thoughts do not overthrow His throne.
Sometimes we allow our thinking to rule our response. We allow our thoughts to dictate and have authority over how we live out our circumstances rather than recognising the one who really sits on the throne.
One of our fellow Lead Pastors has the best outlook on life. The motto he lives by, for any difficult season or frustrating moment, regardless of how big or small is, “but Jesus is still on the throne”.
What that statement does is recognise that I may not understand this, I may not like this, I may not know why it is happening – but what I do know is that God is still in charge, He is still sovereign and He is still in control. He still sits on the throne.
When rubber hits the road, when the fire is roaring, what is going to be your response? Will you have a faith that says: Even if I go through the fire I will not bow down, I will not give in, and I will not give up.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednigo still went into the furnace, they still had to go through the fire. I think if I was God I would have stopped it all before it came to that. But no, in fact, the bible says that Nebuchadnezzar was so furious that he turned the furnace up seven times hotter!
I’d love to be able to tell you that obedience and trust in God will make all of your problems go away but the truth is that when we make a stand for God, it may mean things get hotter!
Let’s find out how this story ends.
Suddenly King Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in alarm and said, “Didn’t we throw three men, bound hand and foot, into the fire?” “That’s right, O king,” they said. “But look!” he said. “I see four men, walking around freely in the fire, completely unharmed! And the fourth man looks like a son of the gods!” Nebuchadnezzar went to the door of the roaring furnace and called in, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the High God, come out here!” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego walked out of the fire. All the important people, the government leaders and king’s counselors, gathered around to examine them and discovered that the fire hadn’t so much as touched the three men—not a hair singed, not a scorch mark on their clothes, not even the smell of fire on them! Nebuchadnezzar said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent his angel and rescued his servants who trusted in him! They ignored the king’s orders and laid their bodies on the line rather than serve or worship any god but their own. “Therefore I issue this decree: Anyone anywhere, of any race, color, or creed, who says anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego will be ripped to pieces, limb from limb, and their houses torn down. There has never been a god who can pull off a rescue like this.” Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon. Daniel 3: 24 – 30 (The Message)
Jesus was with them. How do we know that?
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name; you are mine.
I will be with you
when you pass through the waters,
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not overwhelm you.
You will not be scorched
when you walk through the fire,
and the flame will not burn you. Isaiah 43: 1-2 (CSB)
We will journey through difficult circumstances but Even If faith trusts in the God who walks with you, who promises to never leave you.
Now, go out there and live like you believe it.