Contemporary Christian artist Mercy Me released the song “Even If” in March of 2017 on the album “Lifer”. The words come from the familiar story of the three Hebrew children that King Nebuchadnezzar threw into the furnace because they would not worship the image of gold as he had demanded. The story is found in Daniel 3; verses 17-18 say
“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it and He will rescue us from your hand, O king. BUT EVEN IF He does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
The story goes on to say that their response infuriated the king to the point that he demanded the furnace be heated 7 times hotter than usual; it was so hot that the soldiers who threw Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego into the furnace were killed in the process. We know that the number 7 represents completeness throughout the Bible, so the furnace was hotter than it had ever been and was likely as hot as possible.
Aside from the miracle that saved the three Hebrews’ lives there are some interesting facets to this story and the song as well. First of all is the king’s anger. Have you ever been so angry that you lose control and do something that you later regret? Maybe a better word in this case would be rage. It is normal and human to get angry, but this type of anger is toxic; it is bad for both our mental and physical health and it doesn’t go away just because we unleash it. Sometimes it lingers for years, corroding our bodies from the inside; often the target of our anger is not even aware that we are angry with them. That means the only person suffering consequences is our own self. I remember Robin worked for a person years ago that flew into such a rage with her over some trivial matter. It was emotionally traumatic for her for a long time even though she turned in her resignation notice the next day and left the company. There is a price to pay for this kind of anger, not only from a health perspective, but good employees quit in the workplace, families become estranged, and some people actually kill innocent people I guess just to show how angry they are. But they usually wind up killing themselves or being killed by authorities. In the Bible story the king lost some good soldiers who were just obeying orders, but it doesn’t appear to have had any impact on him. Once the king realizes the Hebrews were not only saved, but not a hair was singed on them and their clothing didn’t even smell like fire, he decided that their God should be his God as well.
Mercy Me’s song says “It’s easy to sing when there’s nothing to bring me down but what will I say when I’m held to the flame like I am right now?” We’re all going to “face the flame” at some point or points in our lives just like the three Hebrews; the question is “how will we respond”? Will we respond with anger, give up, or will we stand firm in the promises of the Lord? The song also says “I know the anger and I know the hurt would all go away if You’d just say the word but even if You don’t my hope is You alone.” Even if we have 20/20 vision, our sight (maybe our “insight”) is so limited and we can’t understand so much of what happens in our world. We can’t understand why healthy 3-month-old babies die, why does someone kill almost seventy people and injure hundreds more for no apparent reason. But that doesn’t mean that our all-knowing, all-seeing God doesn’t understand and it certainly doesn’t mean that He is surprised by any of it; He is still in control of His creation.