"Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, 'O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king. 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."
- Daniel 3:16-18 NIV
Some years ago, one of my dearest relatives was stricken with cancer. She was a woman of faith, and when she received her doctor's grim diagnosis, she placed her trust firmly in God. Her unshakable faith inspired me to ask the Lord for a complete recovery on her behalf. My family members and I sought prayer support from literally thousands of fellow believers. We were certain that God would work a miracle on our loved one's behalf. Nevertheless, her surgeries and treatments led to one complication after another, and though she fought bravely to recover, she died a few months later. I was devastated, and for a while, I felt numb. I still loved God and believed in Him, but my faith was shaken, and I was no longer sure if I could really depend on Him.
It was then that the Lord reminded me of an inspiring teaching I had heard some years earlier. A godly woman, whose husband was the pastor of a large church, told the story of how a little girl in their congregation had contracted a life-threatening illness. This woman was certain that God wanted to grant this child a miraculous healing, so she called for an all-night prayer vigil at her church. A multitude of faith-filled prayers went up to the Lord on behalf of this child, but a short time later, she died. This pastor's wife cried out to the Lord in anguish, saying, "How can I ever feel like I can count on You again, after You've allowed this child to die like this?!" The Lord led her to the passage above from the Book of Daniel, and He told her that the faith response that these three Hebrew youths had in the midst of adversity was the same one He expected of her, even where this child's illness was concerned. It's a familiar Bible account. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refuse to bow down to the king's golden idol, an offense that was punishable by death. Just before they are thrown into the fiery furnace, they declare that, not only is their God ABLE to save them, but He WILL save them. But they make it clear that whether God chooses to rescue them or not, they will remain faithful to Him. As a result, they are rewarded with a miraculous rescue that has inspired believers throughout the ages.
Through this inspiring Bible account, the Lord was telling this pastor's wife that He wanted her to continue to pray in faith for divine help and deliverance in times of trouble. But He also wanted her to make up her mind ahead of time that no matter what the outcome was, she would remain faithful to Him. Some years ago, when my oldest son was so bent on rebellion that my husband and I had to ask him to leave our home, I did two things: I prayed and trusted God to change my son's heart, so that we could be a whole and peaceful family again; and I decided with finality that even if the Lord never answered my prayers, I would still love Him and serve Him with all my heart. I believe that this is the kind of faith response that God often wants us to have in times of adversity. I'm happy to say that the Lord DID eventually restore my family. But there have been many times when I've stood in faith for something, and my prayers were not answered the way I had hoped. Even so, I continue to believe God for miracles every day, and I'm constantly amazed at how ready and willing the Lord is to give us the desires of our hearts.
The next time adversity is staring YOU in the face, I urge you to declare as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego did - "My God is able to save me, and He WILL rescue me!" But do it with a firm resolve that no matter what happens, you will love and serve the Lord with all your heart!
Prayer: Lord, forgive me for the times I lost faith in You when my prayers weren't answered the way I expected. Teach me how to pray and stand in faith for You to work miracles on my behalf when I'm faced with adversity. Make me steadfast in my devotion to You, so that I will remain faithful to You, even when I don't get my way. Thank You that You are worthy of my trust, devotion, and praise!
- J. M. Farro