Bruce Collins, Evangelist

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If I Perish, I Perish!

Meditation for the week of October 17, 2010

Daniel 3:16-18 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. "If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. "But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up."

These three men were faithful to God in a heathen land where they were asked to serve idols. The King was going to throw them into a burning furnace unless they bowed to his idol.  They didn’t bow and were thrown into the furnace, but the fire didn’t harm them.  When they were making their decision not to bow to the idol, they didn’t know that God was going to deliver them.  Even though their prayer to be delivered is not recorded,  I am quite sure they prayed to that end.  They did not need the Lord to answer their prayer in a positive way in order to worship Him. 

Esther was put in a similar situation in the book by her name.  She had been made queen by a miraculous set of circumstances.  It turned out that in her kingdom of the Medes and the Persians was a man by the name of Haman who  wanted to destroy Esther’s uncle who was a Jew as well as all of her uncle’s people.  Esther had not made it known that she was a Jew when Haman was making his plans.  In order for her to deliver her people she had to risk being killed by the King.  She didn’t know if he would allow her to approach him without being called, or if he would execute her for boldness.  Ultimately, she became the miraculous means of saving her people.  However when she made her decision to do what was right, she thought she might die.  She says in Esther 4:16 "Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!"

We hear of people who get miraculous answers to prayer.  I have had some of those in my own life.  But sometimes the greatest faith has been shown by those who were willing to do God’s will without a miraculous answer to prayer to encourage and guide them.  Job prayed for his children and they died in a storm.  He lost his health, his wealth, and his family.  Yet his faith was shown by worshiping God, not because of the problems, but in spite of the problems.  We read, Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped.  And he said: "Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD (Job 1:20-21)." Paul remained faithful to the Lord even though he prayed three times for a thorn in the flesh to be removed and it never was (2 Corinthians 12:7-9).

When I hear those who want to encourage us telling us how prayer changes things, I say, “Amen.”  However, when I hear encouraging stories of miraculous answers to prayer, I also think of the widows who have lost their husbands in tragic accidents and to untimely diseases.  I think of many who through no fault of their own have lost jobs in our current economy and ultimately have lost their houses and in some cases their health.  I think of many who have wanted a partner for life and and a family who have not had that provided for them, even though the Lord says that those things are good and right and even normal.  Those who worship the Lord when He doesn’t seem to be answering their prayers in a positive way, are the real heroes of faith.  Sometimes we are told that if the Lord is not answering our prayers there is “iniquity in our hearts (Psalm 66:18).”  So those who are already discouraged, are encouraged to do a search for some secret sin that may be hindering their prayers.  However, if we have sinned and the Lord is hindering our prayers because of it, I am quite sure we will know that without going on a “search”.  I think that David is really saying that he shouldn’t be praying for something for which he shouldn’t be praying (for iniquity or perverseness), rather than saying he shouldn’t be praying unless he is sinless.  

Just as we don’t preach a prosperity Gospel where we tell people that when they come to the Lord they will get rich, we also shouldn’t preach a prosperity Gospel in the matter of prayer.  God may do things in a way that we don’t understand; but if that happens, He is still God.  He has still sent His Son in love to die for us and to put away our sins.  He loves us even when it seems by circumstances that He doesn’t.  He is worth our faith, our love and our worship even if we perish—even if we are not delivered from the trying circumstances of this life.

Bruce Collins

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