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21 Days of Prayer and Fasting | DAY 19





 

DAY 19

He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain.  All these things are gone forever” Revelation 21:4



PRESS PAUSE: Before you do anything else, take a moment to reflect on and celebrate all the Lord did in you, for you, and spoke to you yesterday. 

 

READ: Daniel 3 (For a deeper dive, read Daniel 1-3)

The story that unfolds in Daniel chapter 3 is one of my all time favorite showings of God’s power and provision.  Here we have this group of friends, banding together against a culture devoid of true devotion and worship to the One true God, standing up for their convictions and obediently fulfilling all the Lord has spoken to them to do. 

As a kid I was drawn to the incredible miracle that took place when, though put into the fire, this band of spiritual brothers walked away completely unharmed.  In fact, as they stepped out of that fiery and blazing hot furnace (verse 22), their clothes weren’t even singed!!  Even from a young age, this story always caused me to stand in awe and wonder at just how big and mighty our God is.  And it was this story from Daniel 3 that always came first to my mind when, in kids church, we sang “My God is so BIG, So strong and so mighty, There’s nothing my God cannot do.”  (Any other 80’s kids gonna have that stuck in their head the rest of the day now??)  But my connection to this story didn’t stop there.

Fast forward several years.  I am now a young teen barreling quickly toward young adulthood when the Lord brings to my attention a new and deeper revelation of this story as I was reading this story once again.  Verses 23 - 25 say,

So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, securely tied, fell into the roaring flames.  But suddenly, Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in amazement and exclaimed to his advisers, “Didn’t we tie up three men and throw them into the furnace?” “Yes, Your Majesty, we certainly did,” they replied.   “Look!” Nebuchadnezzar shouted. “I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire unharmed! And the fourth looks like a god.”

Now, clearly, even as a young child I found it incredible and could see the miraculous at work when, though only three men were thrown into the furnace, there were now in fact four in there roaming around.  But now, after several more years of wrestling through life with Jesus under my belt, the presence of this supernatural fourth took on a whole new level of appreciation and understanding for me.  For what younger me saw as simply God coming to rescue and save, older me now saw in a tangible way the way the Lord, through the Holy Spirit, shows up in our lives even in our most difficult of moments.  His presence is a constant.  I now understood that the Lord doesn’t always just come and swoop in to save and rescue us.  Sometimes, He joins us in the fire.  Walking us out the other side.  

Fast forward yet again.  I am now very much an adult, doing all the adult things, and living the responsibility filled adult life.  I was a mom of two, a worship pastor, and a youth pastor’s wife.  And it was in the season of life that I was thrown into the most fierce fiery furnace I had ever (and I sincerely pray I will ever) encounter when I received a call from my sister, Erika, that she had been experiencing some irregular pain in her chest and would be going to her doctor tomorrow just to have it checked out.  I will never forget her saying, “I’m sure it’s nothing, but if you could just pray I’d appreciate it.”  And pray I did! 

I prayed.  My parents prayed.  My husband and my kids prayed.  Our church staff and church family prayed.  Close friends and long distance family - They.  All.  Prayed.  And we all stepped into the next day confident that the Lord had heard our prayers and Erika was going to walk out of that doctor's office with a clean bill of health.  So when she called me the next afternoon I answered with a low key sense of excitement - ready and eager to hear the good report!  That the pain was gone, the scans were clear, and if there had in fact been something there before then the Lord had miraculously healed her.  Unfortunately, that is not how our conversation went.  Instead, as she began to speak, relaying the news she had just learned, my heart sank and my world shattered.  It was cancer.  It was stage 4.  And it was aggressive.  

That phone set the stage for my entrance into a season in a fiery furnace.  As treatments began, we remained steadfast in the Lord.  Fasting, prayer, believing, and praying some more.  But week after week and month after month she continued to receive bad report after bad report.  And it was somewhere in that season that I began to grow angry with God.  I got to the place where I couldn’t even read stories in the Bible like we read today in Daniel 3 because those words were all about how God showed up for His people but He wasn’t showing up for me!  This was my darkest hour - the moment of my fiercest fiery furnace - and yet it seemed God had decided to pass me over with His promise to heal, His promise to rescue, His promise to save.  I was hurting and I was broken.  And it was in the midst of my anger, frustration, confusion, and doubt that the Lord showed up for me in a new and powerful way.

I will never forget this moment.  It was a Wednesday night and I was slated to preach for that night's youth service.  And so of course, it was late that afternoon that I received the newest piece of bad news - the cancer had spread too far, my sister had been deemed terminal.  So there I was, trying to wrap my brain around the news I just received, with the word “terminal” reverberating through my mind, crying out to God and asking Him why?  Why did my sister get sick in the first place?  Why hadn’t He healed her?  And WHY did this news have to come on this day of all days?  A day when I am going to have to stand up in front of a group of teenagers and preach of His goodness and His faithfulness - two things I wasn’t positive I truly believed in at that moment.

It was in this moment of utter brokenness that I grabbed my Bible, snuck away to the youth room, turned down the lights, cranked up the music and just sat there, crumpled on the floor, sobbing and utterly broken at the feet of Jesus.  After I had cried to the point there were no tears left, I opened my Bible and just automatically turned to Daniel chapter 3.  And it was then that, for the third time in my life, the Lord used this story to teach me something new about Him.  A lesson that the Holy Spirit reminds me of almost weekly to this very day.  Let’s take a moment to re-read verses 13 - 18 together.

“Then Nebuchadnezzar flew into a rage and ordered that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought before him. When they were brought in, Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you refuse to serve my gods or to worship the gold statue I have set up? I will give you one more chance to bow down and worship the statue I have made when you hear the sound of the musical instruments. But if you refuse, you will be thrown immediately into the blazing furnace. And then what god will be able to rescue you from my power?”

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you.  If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”

Had I been sitting in a chair I think I may have fallen out of it as I read the words of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in verses 17 and 18.  DId you catch what they said?  “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us…But even if He doesn’t…”  

These three men were willing to straight up step into a blazing fire, fully confident that the Lord would rescue them, but then they continued “But even if He doesn’t…”  Those five words have reverberated in my spirit ever since.  They have been a lifeline to my faith more times than I can count.  My prayers began to shift from “God, You better..” to “God I know You can…but even if you don’t…” and the Lord began to build in me a strong foundation in this new and deeper “But even if you don’t…” kind of faith.  

I tell you this raw, real, and personal story to tell you this - sometimes God doesn’t show up in the way you are hoping, believing, and praying for.  Sometimes the family member still gets sick, even though you pray daily for the health and strength in your bodies.  Sometimes the scans don’t come back clean even though you have fasted and prayed with more fervency and diligence than ever before.  Sometimes the bad reports keep coming even though you stood on God’s promises, trusting His every word.  And sometimes, that miraculous healing you sought for years comes but not in the way you had hoped.  Instead of coming in the form of a cancer free sister here on Earth, it comes as a fully whole and healed sister in Heaven with Jesus.  

Friends, I want to encourage you, if you are praying for a miracle and believing for God’s healing - KEEP PRAYING!  After all, He is MORE THAN ABLE to do it!  Ephesians 3:20 says, “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.”  But I challenge you to take a step deeper in your faith and trust in His sovereignty to add to those cries of desperation that “Lord, I know you can…But even if you don’t…”  

Even if you don’t ,I will still love you.  Even if you don’t, I will still serve you.  Why?  Because, even if you don’t, You are still good, You are still holy, and You are still God.

Lord, I pray today that you will encourage our hearts and our spirits in You today.  Help us to see beyond our circumstances and, instead, fix our eyes solely on You.  And as we do, I pray that we will discover the same faith we saw in the lives of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  A faith that cries out, “the God that we serve is able to save us…But even if He doesn’t…”

















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