Even If

Some days, life feels heavier than others.

Yes, as my earlier post said, the movie isn’t over. But we start to wonder if the ending won’t be what we expected. Or at least what we hoped. Let’s be honest—Tragic plot twists are intriguing on a screen. Not so much in our lives.

That goal fades to a pipedream. That illness turns chronic. That rebellion escalates. And the time machine is broken, so we can’t go back for a redo.

This isn’t the first time I’ve written on disappointment.

But sometimes, all the motivational memes fall flat. The daily heat singes, and we realize this story might not resolve with an eleventh-hour rescue.

In fact, our dreams may not become a part of our narrative at all.

What then?

We have a decision to make. Do we believe God is good anyway? That His plan is still best? Even if our aspirations never come to pass, will we follow Him—no matter what—as Lord over all?

We wouldn’t be the first ones to have to choose.

Three men in the Bible found themselves in that hotseat. Literally.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stood before a king who demanded they fall down and worship—not God—but a statue. Something the king created. Made of gold.

Just pages before, these three young men had been praised for their wisdom, their strength, their convictions. That same king placed them as leaders over provinces across the kingdom. They seemed to be the up-and-coming success story.

But now, the king was mad. “Choose this day whom you will serve.” Okay, that quote is originally from a different story (Joshua 24:15, ESV), but it fits this one, too.

The king’s actual words? “Now when you hear the sound of the horn…, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?” (Daniel 3:15, NIV)

I don’t know what Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s earthly dreams were, but I’m guessing being cremated alive didn’t top the list.

Nevertheless, their response:

“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it… But even if He does not, …we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (vv17-18, NIV).

Ah, their faith!

It’s no wonder their declaration made it into Mercy Me’s 2017 hit, “Even If.”

The story behind that inspirational song? A thorn-in-the-flesh moment. The band’s lead singer, Bart Millard, stood outside a doctor’s office, discouraged. Tired of cheering others when he slumped in discouragement himself.

You can hear his testimony here.

The tweet-length version of his complaint: “I know God can [do it], but, for whatever reason, He isn’t.”

Meaning Bart had a choice. The same one Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego had. The title of the song says it all. The lyrics, even more.

But the song doesn’t just quote those three men from the Bible. It also repeats the chorus of a hymn, “It is Well with My Soul,” written in the late 1870s by Horatio Spafford.

This man lost it all. His son died from scarlet fever, his law business burned in the Chicago Fire, his four daughters drowned on a sunken ship.

Remind you of another Bible story? Yep, like Job, he had to make a choice. Continue to trust even if he didn’t understand or “curse God and die” (Job 2:9, ESV).

The hymn makes it clear. Spafford chose the even if.

Later travelling over the very spot of the Atlantic Ocean where his girls died, he grabbed pen and paper and scribbled down those now famous words.

“Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know
It is well, it is well, with my soul.”

Three stories.

A contemporary singer, an 1800s businessman, and three young men from the Old Testament. Different times, different places, different circumstances.

Each at a crossroads. Give up? Walk away? Or continue to trust?

And each one said the same thing, albeit in different words.

  • Their hope didn’t rest in the dreams of this world.
  • Their hope lay in God alone.
  • Even to the point of death.

Even if.

As Spafford’s wife, Anna, said after she lost her children, “It’s easy to be grateful and good when you have so much. But take care that you are not a fair-weather friend to God.”

Does that mean God never provides our earthly hopes? Of course not.

Ephesians 3:20, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (NIV).

Like what finally happened with Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego.

The king sent them to that fiery furnace, hot enough to kill even the guards who threw them in. But the three young men didn’t burn. Not even their clothes.

“Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, ‘Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?… But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods’” (Daniel 3:24-25).

Yes, sometimes He hands us our dreams easily on a silver platter. Sometimes He makes us wait with patience. Sometimes He takes us through the fire to get it—walking beside us all the way. And sometimes He says we can’t have it at all. “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

But with Him, even if all my goals turn to dust—I know my eternity is secure. So, it is well, it IS well, with my soul.

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5 thoughts on “Even If”

  1. David

    It is well with my soul, what an amazing truth that we so easily lose sight of. Just like Peter we look at the waves, instead of Jesus. Loved this post!

  2. So much truth here. And that song. Wow. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and this post, Elizabeth.

    1. Thank you, Linda. Yes, this song always makes me stop and listen. It speaks to my heart. Glad to know the post did to yours as well.

  3. Such hard truth. Such hard providences. It’s a daily challenge to say “Even if” and mean it. Even if you said it yesterday, it takes additional resolve to say it and mean it today.

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