Column: And what if God doesn’t?
Isn’t God supposed to do, what He’s supposed to do? And just what is that? And what is an “answer to prayer?” Often, I’ve found that when someone prefaces what they’re about to say with “I want to share an answer to prayer” the story will include a request that was granted as requested.
Many Christians know that there are other “answers” to prayer. Sometimes, God says “no” and “wait” among the possible responses. I’ve heard the Lord say to me, “I’ve got a better idea.” Then, of course, I listen for what I wasn’t looking for.
There’s a wonderful story in the great book of prophecy, Daniel, which I would like to share with you. There were 3 Jewish men who lived in the powerful, ancient Babylon where King Nebuchadnezzar insisted all bow to the statue he had made. (Daniel 3)
Recently, we’ve seen many a prominent athlete make a statement for their beliefs. Many don’t support their beliefs as well as some who do. The only consequences is possible public ridicule. Not in this case. The king threatened, “Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.” (vs. 6) Key figures came forward and obeyed, even spoke out against the 3 Jewish men who refused to bow down.
Even though our three men were leaders, overseers in the Kingdom, they would only worship God, and no other worldly king. Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned the three men, and “called them on the carpet.” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego told the king, “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.” (Vss. 17-18) Nebuchadnezzar ordered the furnace be turned up seven times hotter. The three were tied up and tossed into a fiery furnace that was so hot it killed the soldiers carrying out the order. “Curtains” for the three? Nope.
Follow the king’s response, “’Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.’ The fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.” (Vss. 25-27) The close of the story tells us that the three were “recused” and promoted along with a declaration from the king that favored God.
Greater than the story’s “happily ever after” ending, of the three being spared, is the lesson we can learn in the midst of the furnace. Here’s the truth that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego knew deep, down inside and lived. They believed in a God that was capable and could rescue them. But, if God had a better plan they were ready for it. Can we say that? “Even if He doesn’t,” four words for the fire. Four words for whatever fire we are facing or will ever face. David’s famous Psalm 23 promises that even if we, “walk through the valley of the shadow of death” God is with us. (23:4). He’ll be with us all the way through even if He doesn’t “answer our prayer.”
Pastor Bill Baltz is a member of the Carson Valley Ministers’ Association.