As a lover of words, written, spoken, performed, read, or recited I find that certain phrases tend to resonate deep within my heart and embed themselves in the soul of my being. I recall them in good times and hard times. They weave themselves into the rhythm of my thoughts and bring both strength and peace on the days that my soul is weary.
One of those phrases is “But If Not.”
The words are strung together in the book of Daniel. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were about to be thrown into the fiery furnace, and as the guards were seizing them, they proclaimed the mighty strength of God and his ability save them. Mid sentence they change gears and say, “but if not,” they will continue to serve him.
On the surface, those words seem so contradictive to someone walking in faith. Of course our God can. He is the Lord of heaven and earth! His words alone spoke all of creation into existence. He can move mountains, calm storms, and mend the broken hearted. He can make the lame walk and the blind see. He can breathe life into a dying soul and mend the broken hearted. All power is his alone.
But what happens when the answer is “no,” when the healing never comes; when the need is not met?
What I’m coming to learn is that the phrase, “but if not” is not a statement lacking faith but perhaps the greatest proclamation of faith there is. It shows complete surrender to our own will and acknowledges that no matter, God is still good.
He is the Great Phycian with healing in his wings who will heal our bodies…but if not, he is still good and there is complete healing on the other side of eternity because we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that by his stripes we are healed.
He is the Counselor and Mighty God who says there is not a relationship be wont’ mend…but if not, he draws close to broken hearted and the crushed in spirit. He is a friend to the friendless, and the one who sticks closer than a brother. And when we walk with him, we are never alone.
He can walk on water and calm the storm…but if not, he whispers “peace, be still.”
He can bind our enemies and fight our battles…but if not, he is our ever-present help in trouble who will never leave us nor forsake us.
He can give us riches untold…but if not, he will provide for us according to his riches and glory because he is the God who takes care of the flowers in the field and the birds in the sky, and he will take care of us.
“But if not” doesn’t mean that our God can’t do something, it just means that he is going to do something better.
My friend recently shared the lyrics to a song that really resonated with me:
“Help me want the Healer more than the healing. Help me want the Savior more than the saving. Help me want the Giver more than the giving. Help me want you Jesus more than anything.”
To me, that’s what it means to say “but if not.” Because there is no greater joy or peace than knowing Him and being surrounded by his presence.
I don’t know what you’re facing today, but I do know that no matter what, God is still good!
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