Have you ever needed God to rescue you from a difficult or painful situation? It’s hard to trust God when things keep going wrong in life, especially when you feel beat down and powerless to change your circumstances. Whether it’s your health, relationships, finances or some other situation, God wants you to have faith in his promises when things seem to just keep getting worse.
God Is a Rescuer
A father sits beside his daughter’s hospital bed. She’s sick around the clock because of chemotherapy. She’s lost a lot of weight and frequently sleeps. He touches her hand and prays the same prayer he’s prayed 1,000 times before, “God, I know all you have to do is say the word, and you can heal her.” He’s always believed God can rescue her from this kind of suffering. But, for the first time, he starts to wonder, “What if he doesn’t? What if he doesn’t come to her rescue?”
A single woman goes out to celebrate her 37th birthday with friends. She comes back to an empty apartment and gets ready for bed. In the darkness of the night, she lies in bed and stares up at the ceiling. All she’s wanted since she was a little girl was to be a good wife and loving mom. She knows that God can rescue her from the loneliness of being single. But, she has started to wonder, “What if he doesn’t?”
A husband and wife sit down at the end of the month to go over their income. The couple keeps trying to make the numbers work, but they don’t. They’ve cut expenses everywhere they can: no more eating out, new clothes, vacations. They know God can rescue them from their financial situation, but begin to wonder, “What if he doesn’t?”
The Bible tells us God is a rescuer. God says to the Israelites, “I rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians” (Judges 6:9). He promises, in Psalm 91:15, “When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him.” The Psalms reference God as a rescuer about thirty times!
He’s Able To Rescue You
In Daniel 4 we read about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They had been exiled to Babylon, along with many other Israelites, in 605 BC. They are exiles, basically like slaves, but they are in positions of political power.
The King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, set up a 90-foot tall golden statue and commanded everyone to fall and worship it. If people refused, they were thrown into a blazing furnace. As a result, everyone obediently fell to the ground in worship, except for the three amigos, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
They wouldn’t follow orders because they insisted on remaining faithful to their God. They must have been tempted to think, “Now would be a good time to tie my shoe,” and give the appearance of bowing. But they didn’t pretend or give in to the pressure. Instead, they stood tall in defiance of the king’s orders.
It didn’t take long for the king to learn about their defiance. He was furious and summoned Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. In a fit of rage, he commanded them to fall and worship. Otherwise, he would have them thrown into the blazing furnace. The king asked them, “What god will be able to rescue you from my hand?” (Daniel 3:15).
I’m relatively sure the king meant it as a rhetorical question and didn’t expect an answer. But the three amigos gave him one, anyway. “Will god be able?” They tell him, “Our God IS able” (Daniel 3:17).
Are you drowning in something bigger than you can handle? Deep down, do you wish God would rescue you? Have you been praying for God to save you from painful circumstances? Our God is able.
Your Response Is Important
Have you experienced his rescue? Has God comforted you when you were grieving? Mended your broken marriage? Healed you from an illness? Set you free from overwhelming guilt or bitterness? Has God provided after you were laid off, or brought home your prodigal child?
Our God can do the impossible. He can save us from the unimaginable. But, what if God doesn’t rescue us? Will we still have faith?
I bet Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had asked to be rescued all along the way. When they were young, and the Babylonians were about to invade and take their people, they must have prayed, “God, please rescue us from this.” But God didn’t.
They must have prayed, “God, please rescue us from this” when they learned why King Nebuchadnezzar built the statue. But God didn’t rescue them from their unfortunate circumstances. Perhaps as they stood there, hoping no one would notice their unwillingness to bow, they prayed, “God, please rescue us from this.” But God didn’t.
Each prayer required faith. And each time it seemed that God didn’t come through for them, it took more faith to continue praying. Will we respond with faith to our fear, our confusion, our disappointment?
Have Faith If He Doesn’t
The three amigos tell the king, “Our God can rescue us.” They went on to say, “But even if he doesn’t, we want you to know, Your Majesty, we will NOT serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:18).
That’s faith right there, folks. That’s the kind of faith I long to have. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego knew that God was able, but they decided to trust him even if he didn’t. They had faith, not just that God could save them, but that God would save them. Too often our faith can be, “God, answer my prayers and I’ll believe,” or “God, come through for me, and I’ll worship you more than ever.”
What we need is an “Even if” faith:
- God, I know you’re able to turn my husband into the spiritual leader we need him to be, but even if that never happens, I will worship you and be faithful to him.”
- I know you’re able to rescue me from this disease, but even if that never happens, I will worship you with joy.”
- I know you’re able to provide a better job for me, but even if that never happens, I will worship you in my 1991 Ford Taurus.”
We need to have faith in God based on the trust that he knows what’s best, and in the end, will do what is right and prove to be worthy of our confidence.
Trust His Plan Is Good
That’s what happened in Babylon. King Nebuchadnezzar threw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into the fiery furnace. However, in a strange twist, King Nebuchadnezzar looks in and sees four men, not three. And, none of them are harmed by the flames.
Who was the fourth man in the furnace? We don’t know. But most Bible scholars believe it was Jesus. If so, I’d love to know what took place in that furnace. Maybe Jesus told them how proud he was of them. Perhaps he explained how God had been with them the entire time. Did Jesus reveal how their story would be remembered and retold for thousands of years? Maybe he told them that their circumstances would later inspire millions of people to be faithful to God when they went through their furnace.
None of us know for sure if it was Jesus. And we don’t know what was said. But I do know God proved himself a rescuer that day. The king called them out of the furnace. They came out unscathed. And the worst thing that ever happened to them became the best thing that ever happened to them.
I know that God will prove himself a rescuer in your life. It may not happen right away and you might still experience pain or discomfort. But, I also know when you go through trials, you need to keep an eye out for the fourth person because if you’re a child of God, you are never in the furnace alone.
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