Even If: Following God When Life Gets Difficult
Following God when life gets hard might be the most difficult part of following him.
When I was a little boy, I fell in love with the story in Daniel 3 of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. It had everything a 10-year-old boy loved: an evil king, heroes who win in the end, and of course a lot of fire. What 10-year-old boy doesn’t love playing with fire?
I was taught the punch line to this story was, “God will always save those who trust him.” What seemed to be a great lesson for me as a child does not appear to be ringing true in my adult years. God has not always saved me from trouble. Following Jesus has been difficult and what has been even more challenging is following him through the many pains of life.
I began to ask, “What do I do, even if God doesn’t save me from my troubles?”
A few months ago, I once again read the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. These young men were standing up against the evil King Nebuchadnezzar, and they said something to the king I had never noticed before.
But EVEN IF he does not (save us), we want you to know, O King, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of god you have set up” -Daniel 3:18.
Even with their lives on the line, they were willing to follow God. They were ready to follow him even if he did not save them from the fire. As I read this verse, I sensed the Holy Spirit say to me, “Have you traded your ‘even if’ for an ‘only if’?”
At times, I have told God I would follow him only if I could avoid the even if moments. Why? Becuase only if moments keep me out of harms way. They keep me safe and secure. Whereas, even if moments test the character God is building deep inside of me. Here are a few those only if moments I have wrestled with God.
- Only if, you provide the job”I” want.
- Only if, I can stay comfortable and financially safe.
- Only if, I can keep my sin hidden from others.
- Only if, I can avoid pain and not experience loss.
- Only if, marriage is in my future.
My commitment to following God was conditional on his ability to keep me from the even if experiences of my life. But when I read the Scriptures, true devotion to God is found in the very even if moments I have been trying desperately to avoid.
These moments will test our perseverance to follow God even if the outcome of the experience cost us dearly. We all will face these even if moments. In the midst of these moments, what if we stopped looking for an easy way out and started looking for Jesus. Our call to follow Jesus is the call to live an even if life. We must choose to follow Jesus even if we don’t understand. Even if we have doubts. Even if following Jesus costs us everything. Jesus, help me be an EVEN IF disciple.
Prayers of an “Even If” disciple.
- Even if, you ask me to go somewhere I don’t want to go.
- Even if, I have to offer forgiveness without receiving an apology
- Even if, it takes me too long to understand what’s happening.
- Even if, I have to give up a friendship.
- Even if, I stand alone for what I believe.
- Even if, my questions and doubts remain unanswered.
- Even if, it costs me financially.
- Even if, it puts my family or me at risk.
- Even if, it costs me everything. I will follow you.
Have you put a condition of only if on your relationship with God? What are those conditions?
What ways have you followed Jesus through the even ifs?
What impact could the church make if it was filled with EVEN IF disciples?
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