Three men dared to stare death in the face until it blinked. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had no time to prepare an answer as they stood before King Nebuchadnezzar with their backs to the fiery furnace. The king told them they must either bow before his idol or serve as kindling for the fire.

Their response was memorable. They said, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. Daniel 3:16b–18

Of course, we know what happened afterward — they were thrown in the flames, but God spared their lives. They stepped from the furnace without so much as the scent of fire on their clothing. In their response, we see their strong faith in God as well as their commitment to obey Him at all costs, even if He didn’t deliver them.

“But if not . . .” These three words need to be integrated into every Christian’s vocabulary, for they provide staying power to continue in the fight. Everyone likes to be delivered from their fiery trials — cancer, the death of a loved one, severe pain, foreclosure, rejection, a job loss — but few people have the dedication to maintain their faith through them. This takes believers of a certain caliber. Would you qualify?

My friend, God is able to deliver you from any difficult situation you might encounter. But what if He doesn’t? Will you still trust Him? This is a very difficult decision to make, one best made before a trial presents itself. I challenge you to make your choice today.

Devotional by Pastor Jim Scudder, Jr.