But What if God Doesn’t Do What I Ask?

How is your, “But even if He does not” faith?

My husband, Phil, and I have been reading some of those New Testament verses that beg childlike faith. Verses like, “if you ask me anything in my name, I will do it,” John 14:14 (ESV) and “so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.” Jn. 15:16 (ESV).

You may remember those crazy discussions as a child.

“If God wanted to, He could make my thumb go all around the world.”

Yes that was me.

“If God wanted to, He could move Pikes Peak to Kansas.”

Yup, me too. Hands on hips, face to face, daring and maybe just a little Jonathan Edwards-ish.

“If God wanted to, He could heal my daughter.”

That was also me, grown up, alongside a whole lot of others from the deepest recesses of our beings.

Those “if God’s” get deep and personal, confusing and desperate. They can bring faith to a standstill somewhere inside the confines of humanness and intelligence. Or they can do the opposite.

They can bring faith to explosion outside the boundaries of my understanding. They push faith beyond what I think God should or could do and much higher than my asking.

These are the uncomfortable realities of faith. What we cannot understand becomes either a testimony of a god so weak he is defined by my minute personal comprehension, or a God so much higher and holier that He cannot be fathomed this side of heaven.

He is not defined by our crossroads, but He is enlarged.

Taken as captives, encultured into a pagan society, given new names which honored man-made gods, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego came to a crossroads of faith.

“Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego,” the king asked in a furious rage, “that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up?”

And then Nebuchadnezzar pulled himself together to offer them one more chance. He would be magnanimous. He would let sleeping dogs lie. He offered another opportunity. The music would play another time. He gave one more  chance to bow down to his image.

But if not, a fiery furnace waited.

“And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?” the king asked, taking the god position himself.

I don’t see any signs of bargaining. I don’t read about negotiations. There isn’t even anything to suggest hesitation. The three Israelites didn’t need a moment to compose a politically correct response, consult or consider. Although it was not their native tongue, they spoke decisively and clearly.

“O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter.”

They already knew the answer to his question.

“…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.

Maybe the crossroads didn’t happen then. Maybe it happened before, when they were taken under duress from their homeland, perhaps when they were ordered to eat the food of the king, or when they were forced to study pagan literature. Maybe their reaction was one of people who had long before determined to love God regardless of the outcome.

“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 3:18 (ESV)

And their fate was sealed.

I love this story so much. Sure I love the miraculous ending, but I love the “But if not” most of all. Because it reminds me that even in the hottest fire, God walks with me.

The three displaced Israelites already knew this before the flames fired up. They staked their lives on the faithfulness of God, and on complete trust that even if God did not save them from the fire, nothing changed.

They didn’t doubt either His ability or His goodness.

Even when I’ve predetermined the best outcome for Him to give me, He still actually knows more, sees farther and does greater.

Life is full of crossroad opportunities.    

How is your, “But even if He does not” faith?


*Photo by Amruth Pillai on Unsplash

8 Replies

  1. J.D. Wininger Reply

    Such a much-needed post Ms. Sylvia. I too love the stories of faith in Daniel. The most difficult question we can ask is “Lord, what will You have me learn as I walk through this trial?” We don’t want to be there; in the middle of divorce, death, financial hardships, moments when our faith just doesn’t seems strong enough to sustain us, but we must remember that whatever the reason, God can use this for good. God’s blessings ma’am.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thank you J.D. You are so right. The trial is not a lovely place to be, but God produces the growth and His reasons are good. Appreciate your comment.

  2. Linda Brucato Reply

    love it! I, too, have committed my heart to saying “Your will be done”, not mine! So much peace in that decision.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thank Linda. There is peace in that decision. Sometimes it takes a bit of a struggle to get me there though! Appreciate your comment!

  3. Rebecca Thesman Reply

    Great thoughts, Sylvia. It is the “But if nots” in life that quantify our faith. I wish I could say I have arrived at that point.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Me too Rebecca. I learn and then re-learn and learn again. I am so grateful for a very loving and patient Father in my “But if nots.” Thanks for the comment!

  4. Debi Reply

    Amen to a sovereign God