Recently I found the classic VeggieTales movie Rack, Shack and Benny to watch with Natalie for the first time. While I nostalgically sang along with tunes I hadn’t heard in years, Natalie anxiously half-covered her eyes with her hands. “I don’t want to see the fire,” she pleaded.
She has learned the real story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, but despite knowing the ending – that they would be saved from the fire – she was afraid to see the moment when they are tossed into the flames, even when “they” in this case were a trio of vegetables!
And it hit me that perhaps the story had become so familiar to me that I started to lose sight of the significance of it.
That the flames had lost their terrifying power. That the words of those three men had become somehow less courageous, less trusting, less devoted. That in knowing the ending, I missed out on the impact of that moment in front of the fire.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego stood before king Nebuchadnezzar, refusing to bow to the golden statue he set up, refusing to worship anything or anyone but God. He gave them one last chance to escape the blazing fire and they replied,
“…our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” Daniel 3:17-18
They didn’t know the ending.
As Nebuchadnezzar in his fury ordered the fire to be heated seven times more than usual, a blaze so hot it killed the guards who carried them up, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego didn’t know that God would save them.
They knew He could, but they didn’t know if He would.
And yet their words remained: even if. Courageous, wholly trusting, fully devoted. The ending didn’t change their answer. God is able to save us, but even if He doesn’t, we will serve Him.
Sometimes I wish I knew the ending for my story. For the story of our sweet baby girl. Sometimes I think maybe that would make this “fire” easier to walk through.
But then I think about those two words… even if.
Would knowing the ending change my trust in God? Would it change my devotion to Him?
Can I truly say that I will serve Him, love Him, and trust Him no matter what happens in the middle of those flames and in all that lays beyond? No matter what the ending turns out to be?
I say I will, but my emotions are slow to follow. Fear is especially hard for me. Fear that takes the form of a different set of words – what if?
What if something happens during Hope’s next surgery and she isn’t the same person anymore? What if she is constantly sick? What if someday she needs a heart transplant? What if she can’t do things she wants to do? What if she dies?
I read an article entitled “What If the Worst Happens?” that touched on this very issue. In it the author writes about changing our “what if” to “even if”. I love this quote:
“Even if the worst happens, God’s grace is sufficient. Those three young men faced the fire without fear because they knew that whatever the outcome it would ultimately be for their good and for God’s glory. They did not ask “what if” the worst happened. They were satisfied knowing that “even if” the worst happened, God would take care of them.”
I want to live that way. To face the fire, face the future, without fear. I want to stand in that moment, when the ending is unknown, and declare “even if”.
Even if all those fears came true, I will still serve God, still trust Him, still love Him. Even if the worst happens, God’s grace is sufficient and He will take care of me.
Two weeks after the devastating news that our baby girl’s combination of a heart defect and hydrops would lead to her death, I was driving to our follow up ultrasound when MercyMe’s song “Even If” came on the radio. I cried through the words…
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone
I know He can save, but I don’t know if He will. I know He is able, but I don’t know if He will choose to work in the way I would ask. But even if… my hope is in Him alone. Even if… I will serve and trust Him. Even if… He will take care of me, take care of us.
A medical update on Hope:
We took a trip to Boston Children’s Hospital at the beginning of the month as we have been pursuing a second opinion on surgical options. We love our team here but wanted to make sure we looked into all possibilities in order to make the best decision.
Hope had an MRI, echocardiogram, and heart catheterization while in Boston and we were able to meet with both a cardiologist and surgeon. It was a lot of information to process and when all is said and done there isn’t one single clear path as to what should definitely be done for Hope’s complicated little heart.
In discussing with our cardiologist here and considering different options we have decided to have Hope’s next surgery in Boston. The surgery includes procedures called the Glenn and DKS, both of which sort of “work around” her heart as it is, taking pressure off the heart and helping it function in a more stable state.
We decided to have this done in Boston so that the surgeon there can also look at one of Hope’s valves during the operation and potentially take some additional surgical steps to help her left ventricle grow. This may or may not be possible, depending on what he sees when he is in there. Since he specializes in complex biventricular repairs we need to have him be the one to perform the surgery. It is likely that Hope will be on the single ventricle path, but we want to make sure we have fully explored the biventricular option. We expect this surgery to be in the next month or so, as long as Hope stays healthy.
We sincerely appreciate continued prayers as we prepare for this surgery and all that comes with being away from home for an extended time. Knowing we have people lifting our little girl (and us) up before the Lord means so much!