When God Does Not Deliver

My son was walking very carefully through our yard.  It’s like he knew something was in the grass, waiting for him.  That’s when he started talking to me about things that scared him.

“Dad, you know what I’m afraid of?”

“What?”

“Snakes.”

I had to guard my tongue.  I couldn’t say something like, “Well, you should be.  Those things are evil and the world probably wouldn’t be in the mess it’s in now if it wasn’t for snakes.”  Instead I think I said something about them being more scared of him than he is of them.  I’m not sure how that’s supposed to help or even if it’s true but I’ll stand by it for now.

And then he asked me what made me scared.

Everything inside of me wanted to say, “Nothing.  Dad’s not scared of anything,” as I pulled out a large knife and started shaving my chest hair.  I couldn’t find a large knife so I told him the truth.

“One of the things that scares me the most is speaking in front of people.”

He looked at me like I was insane.  He knew that the next morning I would stand in front of several people and preach to them.  He’s seen me do this hundreds of times already.

“So what do you do?”

“I pray.  A lot.”

I told him about going to church early in the morning to walk around our building and pray for myself as well as for those that will be listening.  But for all of the times that I’ve prayed on Sunday mornings, God has never delivered me from the source of my fear.  He’s never once directed John Piper or Matt Chandler to suddenly stop by and ask to fill-in for me that morning.

In Daniel 3, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are told that they will be burned to death if they don’t worship King Nebuchadnezzar’s 90 foot tall image of gold.  Despite their great faith, the three young men are still thrown into the burning furnace.

Their deliverance didn’t come in time.

God had something better.

Instead of just deliverance, God gave them deliverance through his presence.

God’s presence was so powerful that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had to be told to come out of the furnace (3:26) where they were walking around with a fourth man that the king referred to as “a son of the gods.”  Once they came out, “The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them” (3:27).  You can’t walk out of the Waffle House without carrying a certain odor with you but these guys came out of a flaming death hole smelling like they had been at Bath and Body Works.

If these three young men were simply removed from the bad situation they were in, they would have missed the powerful presence of their Deliverer.  What’s the good of being delivered if you don’t get to enjoy the presence of God?

We all had fears as kids that we have since outgrown.  For most of us those fears have been replaced with newer ones.  The fear of the dark has been replaced with the fear of losing a job.  The dread of the first day at a new school is gone but the fear of giving in to that familiar temptation is alive and well.

Sometimes we will enjoy deliverance from the source of our fears but a lot of times we will not.  Some of our worst fears may even become realities.  But as followers of the sovereign Lord Jesus, our faith is not in deliverance but in the Deliverer who has promised, “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

His presence is greater than our fears.

His presence is enough.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”  Isaiah 43:2