They say sometimes you win some – Sometimes you lose some – And right now, right now I’m losing bad – I’ve stood on this stage night after night – Reminding the broken it’ll be alright
But right now, oh right now I just can’t
It’s easy to sing – When there’s nothing to bring me down – But what will I say – When I’m held to the flames – Like I am right now.“Even If” by: Mercy Me
These are the words to a fairly well-known song by Mercy Me. I’ve never really paid too much attention to this song before. That is until one day, driving to school, stressing out about finances, homework assignments and the everyday grind of life and this song came through my speakers and for some reason, it pierced my heart. So, I listened to it, over and over and over.
As this song played over and over, I started raising questions to God.
- Why did You move my family and I a country width away from all the family we have?
- Why does my middle son have asthma?
- Why did my wife’s parents have to die from cancer at such a young age, leaving my wife and her 5 sisters to grow up without knowing what it’s like to have parents?
- Driving her sisters into a life of hate and regret that they just can’t seem to get out of?
You see, the lead singer of Mercy Me, Bart Millard, has 5 kids and one of his kids was diagnosed with diabetes. If anyone in here has children, you know how devastating it can be to discover that your precious little child will have something that will affect them for the rest of their life.
How many of us have been there before? Pressed up against the proverbial flames of trouble? Burned by the unfortunate circumstances of our own decisions or the consequences of other’s actions or just the misfortune of life? So how do we not just get through hard time but really thrive through hard times? Well, in Daniel we can read about what it’s like to be pressed up against the fire.
How do we thrive through hard times?
That brings us to our reading in Daniel…
At this time in Babylon, King Nebuchadnezzar had just conquered Jerusalem and had a lot of the Jews, that were there, living with the Chaldeans in Babylon (who didn’t care for the Jews too much). Because of all his accomplishments, the king made a Golden statue that every time music would play, everyone who heard said music needed to bow down and worship this man-made statue.
But Shadrack Meshach and Abednego would refuse to bow down and worship this false god.
Daniel 3:8-17, CSB
"8Some Chaldeans took this occasion to come forward and maliciously accuse the Jews. 9They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, "May the king live forever. 10You as king have issued a decree that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute zither, lyre, harp, drum, and every king of music must fall down and worship the gold statue. 11Whoever does not fall down and worship will be thrown into a furnace of blazing fire. 12There are some Jews you have appointed to manage the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men have ignored you, the king; they do not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up." 13Then in a furious rage Nebuchadnezzar gave orders to bring in Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king. 14Nebuchadnezzar asked them, "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, is it true that you don't serve my gods or worship the gold state i have set up? 15Now if you're ready, when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, drum, and every kind of music, fall down and worship the statue I made. But if you don't worship it, you wi.l immediately be thrown into a furnace of blazing fire and who is the God who can rescue you from my power? 16Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied to the king, "Nebuchadnezzar, we don't need to give you an answer to this question. 17If the God we serve exists, then he can rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and He can rescue us from the power of you, the king."
Wow!!! I tell you what, wow!!! (Bartok, Anastasia reference) See we can stop right there and go home. WHAT AN EXAMPLE OF FAITH!!! In the face of imminent death, Shadrack, Meshach, and Abednego said, Do it! Do your best!!! And put a little stank on it!!! They straight talked the King. The king of Babylon. You don’t just do that.
What did this king do?…
- You see this king was the king that defeated the Egyptian Pharaoh Necho in 605 BC.
- This king captured Jerusalem, got rid of King Jehoiakim, and put Zedekiah on the throne, in 597.
- This king defeated the Cimmerians and Scythians and then turned west, again, conquering Western Syria and destroying Jerusalem including the Temple of Solomon, in 586.
- This king put down a rebellion under Zedekiah, whom he had installed, and exiled hundreds of Hebrew families.
- This king took the inhabitants of Jerusalem prisoner and brought them to Babylon as captives.
So, no! You don’t talk to this king like that. But Shadrack, Meshach, and Abednego did. Because why? They had faith. They had faith that God would take care of them.
So that could be my first point if you’re into a point breakdown system. Point 1: Have Faith.
Now, can we really stop there and go home? Of course not. Our stories, our circumstances, our hard times don’t stop with faith and neither should we. Faith, by itself is not a cure all. It’s not a get out of jail free card.
James 2:14, CSB “Faith without…” what? Is what? “Faith without works is Dead.”
Shadrack, Meshach, and Abednego had faith. Not only did they have faith, but they put in the work too. Look at it again.
Daniel 3:10-12, CSB
10You as king have issued a decree that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute zither, lyre, harp, drum, and every king of music must fall down and worship the gold statue. 11Whoever does not fall down and worship will be thrown into a furnace of blazing fire. 12There are some Jews you have appointed to manage the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men have ignored you, the king; they do not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up."
Shadrack, Meshach and Abednego knew what was going on. They knew that if they didn’t do what was asked of them that they would face hate, beating, and more than likely a fiery death. They were Jews in a foreign land. So, of course their every action would be watched and scrutinized, but because of their faith they put the work in not bowing down to any other god but the one and true God.
- Through their faith, they put in the work of standing up against the king.
Point 2: Put in the work.
So now we have faith and we have works. So, everything should come out hunky dory, right? Well
They say it only takes a little faith – To move a mountain – Well good thing – A little faith is all I have, right now – But God, when you choose – To leave mountains unmovable – Oh, give me the strength to be able to sing – It is well with my soul
I know You’re able and I know You can – Save through the fire with Your mighty hand But even if You don’t – my hope is You alone
I know the sorrow and I know the hurt – Would all go away if You’d just say the word But even if You don’t – My hope is You alone.“Even if” by: Mercy ME
We have to keep reading. And please! Don’t miss this…
Daniel 3:16-18, CSB
16Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied to the king, "Nebuchadnezzar, we don't need to give you an answer to this question. 17If the God we serve exists, then he can rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and He can rescue us from the power of you, the king. 18But even if He does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up."
But even if he does not rescue us…
They had the faith, they put in the works, but what holds those two things together is understanding.
You see faith with works isn’t about getting what we want, it’s not about selfishness, it can’t be. because the root of all sin is selfishness. So, the good things of God cannot come out of selfishness.
Did they want to be freed from the fiery furnace? Did they want to live a long and prosperous life? Yes, of course. But they knew that their selfishness and what they wanted does not equate to the goodness of God.
God gives us a promise through a declaration…
Jeremiah 29:11, CSB Here’s His promise.
11For I know the plans I have for you -- this is the Lord declaration -- "plans for your well-being, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 12You will call to me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart. 14I will be found by you."
You see? God has a plan. It is a good plan. Even when hard times come, even when we are faced with less than desirable circumstances, God has a plan. We don’t know the plan. We can’t know the plan, but God does, and it is a good plan. We’re not always going to get what we want! Things are not always going to turn out the way we want them to turn out and that’s okay. Because there is a greater picture.
Matthew 26:39, CSB Christ knew there was a bigger picture…
39Going a little farther, "He fell facedown and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will."
So, how can we bring this to a head? How can I paint a complete picture for you?
I’ll end with this… and this will bring up my last point as well…
Abraham was faced with this decision…
God asked Abraham to kill his only son, the miracle child that God blessed him and Sarah with. The child that was going to make Abraham the “father of many nations” and because Abraham knew that God was good, he said, “I will do it.”
- It was through Abrahams faithful obedience to God, that God spared Isaacs life.
- Through work, not before Abraham drew the knife but after…
- What was the focal point of this situation? Isaac.
- And what was Isaac? The promise.
- When we are in bad situations or when things don’t go our way.
- Have faith
- Do the work
- Point 3: Hold tight to Gods promises
You see the supposed outcome was not what Abraham wanted, the cross was not what Christ wanted, but they trusted God, because God is good, and He has a plan for us that is also good.
You’ve been faithful, You’ve been good – All of my days – Jesus, I will cling to You – Come what may – ‘Cause I know You’re able – I know You can
It is well with my soul – It is well, it is well with my soul.“even if” by: mercy me