“But if not…” These three little word have helped me clarify a point that is fundamental in my faith. I believe God can save a person’s life and that He can deliver a person from the gravest peril. He may do either or both. But if not, what then?
Daniel 3:16-18 brings the words ‘but if not’ into clear focus. “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.”
We often pray for healing from serious physical illness or deeply trying circumstances. We believe the Lord is able to remedy the most serious conditions. But we need to understand that it may not happen as we think. I believe He can and will always deliver one of His children from total destruction by the evil one. However, He may not physically save our lives in the here and now. ‘But if not,’ He is still God and will always have our eternal well-being as His motivation.
Jesus said, “And fear not them which kill the body but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). According to commentators Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown:
“A decisive proof this (is) that there is a hell for the body as well as the soul in the eternal world; in other words, that the torment that awaits the lost will have elements of suffering adapted to the material as well as the spiritual part of our nature, both of which, we are assured, will exist for ever. Note ‘them which kill the body’. That is, ‘fear not’ people or things who have no power to injure the soul, the immortal part of our being. The body is a small matter to deal with in comparison to the soul. Temporal death that looms so ominous is a minor disruption compared to eternal death. The Lord directs people, therefore, not to be overly alarmed at the prospect of temporal death, but to fear God, who can destroy both soul and body forever.”Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, by Robert Jamieson, Andrew Robert Fausset, and David Brown, 1871
As we walk our probationary journey of life, we can rest assured that there is no situation that comes to us from which the Lord cannot deliver us. He is able! However, we must also know that He may choose not to extricate us from temporal circumstances. He tells us in His word, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9, NKJV). We need to understand that “…though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” ( 1 Peter 1:6-7, NIV).
Our Lord Is Able To Deliver Us – But If Not…
~ Brother Roy