But if Not...
“O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16b-18)
What if the answer is, “no”? We are encouraged to ask of God. We are told to do so without doubting. But, when God answers “no”, what does that mean? How do we respond? This is such an easy place to let faith become tested and brittle. Most often what we are praying for are things of importance to us. But, how does it profit God’s plan?
The template prayer given by Jesus in Matthew 6 reminds us that in all things that we seek God’s glory is of primary importance. Thus, the phrase, “Your will be done”. I want to be healthy, but not if I can best glorify God through my illness. I want to be financially secure, but not if I can best glorify God through poverty. I want to see my grandchildren (maybe even great-grandchildren), but if I can bring some lost soul to heaven by going on ahead- I’m ready.
What about those lost souls? I pray for several regularly. I see people who have given up on God and walked away from His love and it is easy to think, “How hard do I have to pray for them to get them to see the light?” In truth, I do not know. With tearful eyes, I wonder if their lost state is meant to be a reminder of what could happen to the strongest of Christians if our guard is let down. But, until they grace the gates of Jerusalem, or I do, I will be praying for them. Farther along, we’ll know all about it. Farther along we’ll understand why. Cheer up my brother, live in the sunshine. We’ll understand it all by and by. (Sacred Selections; #473)
I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint. (Habakkuk 2:1)