Monday, January 28, 2008

Five of My Favorite Words in the Bible

From the time I was a little girl, I heard the story of God rescuing Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace from Daniel 3.

But as an adult studying through the book of Daniel several years ago, a phrase leapt off the page at me that is not emphasized in the children's version. And yet these are 5 of my favorite words in the Bible.

"Even if He does not."

You see, those 3 faithful guys knew their God was perfectly capable of rescuing them from the inferno. They stood right up to King Nebuchadnezzar and said "the God we serve is able to save us from it." (v. 17) They had a strong faith in a mighty God. And yet, they recognized that God was God and might choose to be glorified by their death, but that didn't change their stance one iota. "But even if He does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." (v. 18) Their faith was in Him, not what they were convinced He was going to do.

If you read my Books meme, you saw that a book that changed my life is Ron Dunn's When Heaven is Silent. He addresses this same issue from the book of Job. Satan comes to God in chapter 1 and basically says that Job serves God because of the blessings he receives from it. ("Does Job fear God for nothing?" v. 9) Hence those blessings are removed to show that Job served God because of Who He Is, not what He does.

Ron Dunn asserts that the point of the book of Job is not "Why do the righteous suffer?" Rather, it is "Why do the righteous serve God?" He asks:

Why do I worship God? It's a fair question. Do I worship God because He is God or because He blesses me with good gifts? What if He stopped "blessing" me?...We tell people that if they tithe God will bless them, He will make the 90 percent go farther than the 100 percent. But what if He doesn't? What if the only thing you had after you tithed was 10 percent less than you had before you tithed? What if the IRS decreed that gifts to the church were no longer deductible?...'Will a person serve God for nothing?'

And part of what must be wrestled with here is how this leads us to view God and His character. Dunn wrestled with it. (This book was written as a result of the sorrow he experienced following his 17-year-old son's death.) Job wrestled with it. Anyone who has suffered a tragedy has wrestled with it. And apparently our 3 guys facing the fiery furnace had wrestled with it.

Thirteen years ago this spring, when I was pregnant with my girl, we had a bit of a scare about Down's. In order to be prepared, I elected to have an amnio to find out definitively. It was a very uncertain and difficult time as we awaited the results. So many well-meaning believers tried to encourage me by telling me many people were praying and therefore everything would be all right.

What I had to get to the point of realizing was this: everything would indeed be "all right", not based on whether I delivered a chromosomally-perfect child, but based on the character and sovereignity of a loving God Who is good.

If He delivers us from our trials and sorrows.

And even if He does not.

(I have a few more comments on this, so come back in the next day or two for Part 2!)

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Kelly said...

Yes! I love this post--God has taught me so much about submission and obedience this year.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful post, Linda. I love Siesta Beth's definition of faith: "Knowing that God can, whether or not He does". And boy, HE CAN!



Xandra said...

Amen sister! This is such a fundamental truth that so many people never really grasp. It all ties in to God's sovereignty, and what a relief and blessing it is to know that He is in control of all things.


Amy L Brooke said...

Thanks for sharing!

I appreciate your heart for God.

Take care. Have a great Tuesday.

Denise C said...

Beautiful post and so very accurate! God is God in the good times and bad. He still reigns and He is not shocked one bit by anything that happens or in this case...does not happen! I am so thankful to put my trust in HIM alone! Thanks for sharing this word today....I'll be back to read part two!!
Blessings to you, my friend!

Mel's World said...

Wahoo!!! You Go Girl! You are SO right on! I love it!

My oldest son was tragically ill and in teh hospital for 51 days...we thought he wasn't going to make it, but we knew that God could if He wanted to, and thankfully He did.

The entire time my baby was in the hospital he would ask me, "Why mom, why me...God knows how much I love Him, why me?" and as a mom my heart would break, but as a Christian sister I could lead him back to the Word and we spent many many hours on Job.

Thanks for the Good Word today!

Anonymous said...

Great post, You really say it from your heart!! Thanks for the word:)