We’ve probably all heard the term “fair-weather friend.” Maybe you’ve even had one or two of these people in your life.
It’s a person who’s our friend when our lives are clicking along smoothly, and it’s convenient for them. However, they disappear at the first sign of trouble or when it’s no longer easy for them to be with us.
Sometimes as Christians we can have “fair-weather faith.” It’s a faith that loudly sings the words to “Trust and Obey” in a church service when we’re happy and circumstances are good. But when a trial comes along, it gets pretty quiet.
When we’re seeing prayers answered, we give a testimony about trusting God, and how He came through in our situation. Yet when we’ve prayed for relief from a hardship, and it hasn’t gone away, we may secretly doubt God’s faithfulness.
I see three men in the Old Testament who had genuine faith, not the fair-weather kind.
I’m sure you know the story found in Daniel 3. King Nebuchadnezzar tells Shadrach, Meshach, and Abenego that they’re going to be thrown into a fiery furnace. They’ve refused to obey the command to bow down and worship his idol. Death is imminent. I think this qualifies as a trial.
Yet their faith is not shaken.
“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, 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 3:16-18
BUT IF NOT.
In other words, “God, we know you can deliver us. But even if you don’t, we’re going to keep on loving and obeying you.”
When a trial comes, we pray for deliverance. In our humanity, we pray to escape the trial as quickly as possible. And we have absolute faith that God can do that.
So, if you’re like me, we pray what we believe is best for us. I’ll take the shortest route through this difficulty, thank you very much. I think Cherie Hill says it well in her book, The Problem of Prayer and The Promise That Changes Everything.
“We want prayer to be our will that influences heaven, instead of praying that God’s will influences what happens on earth.”
And sometimes God answers that prayer, and we see a quick victory. But other times, our outcome may look like what happened to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
You see, before their faith was realized, they had to go into the furnace. God didn’t rescue them from being thrown in. He only delivered them after He revealed Himself to them in the midst of it.
God may not deliver us out of our trial, but He will deliver us through it. He wants to show us how to endure it as a good soldier. These three men submitted to God’s will regardless if it meant deliverance or death. And it’s through those kinds of trials that we will come to a deeper, sweeter relationship with Jesus Christ.
Neither you nor I are facing a heathen king or a fiery furnace. But maybe today we don’t have enough money to pay the bills or we realize a child is making bad life choices. It could be a cancer diagnosis, a spouse who’s grown distant, or seeing the chance we had at a new and better job fall apart.
Here’s another thought-provoking quote from Cherie Hill. “Sometimes, just as in the Garden of Gethsemane, our prayers will be crying out to God for help, and we’ll suffer through it, instead of being delivered out of it.”
If that’s where you are, hold on to your faith like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. It’s a faith that says, “I know You can…but you might not.” Ask God to give you a faith that walks into the fire, still trusting Him. Rest in His promise to never leave you nor forsake you. And you’ll grow a faith that keeps you strong, no matter what the weather.