Daniel 3:17. the God whom we serve is able to save us from the blazing furnace and from your power, then he will. But even if he doesn’t, Your Majesty may be sure that we will not worship your god, and we will not bow down to the gold statue that you have set up.
Supposed to work and actual working are often not the same thing, unfortunately. Most any farmer or gardener knows well that he can only influence soil fertility, disease and insect or animal pressure, and seed quality without any hope of even trying to influence, much less control, the weather. If even one of these variables is awry, crop productivity and thus, harvest declines. Worse yet, in many instances, even one less-than-ideal variable can negatively influence one or more other variables and compound the decline in both quality and quantity of crop productivity. And when your entire paycheck is dependent on what comes from your garden, field, orchard, barn, stable, or vineyard, every dollar or plateful not gained at harvest is a dollar or plateful not available to feed your family, your animals, or yourself. Talk about trusting God as your only source of hope for this life and the next…
Habakkuk captured this concept in Habakkuk 3:17-18 Even if the fig tree does not bloom and the vines have no grapes, even if the olive tree fails to produce and the fields yield no food, even if the sheep pen is empty and the stalls have no cattle—even then, I will be happy with the Lord. I will truly find joy in God, who saves me. The “even if” worst case scenario of empty fields, barns, and vineyards was a very real possibility with the Israelites then, and for many today, be they farmers or not. Empty barns, fields, trees, vines, bank accounts, pantries, wombs, other side of the bed, days free from pain, email or voicemail boxes, or hours can rob one from a harvest of joy meant to satisfy her soul. For joy cannot be duplicated or replaced, it can only be planted, cultivated, and harvested from the fertile soil of an “even if” faith.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Daniel 3:17 also had this “even if” faith when confronted by Nebuchadnezzar – the God whom we serve is able to save us from the blazing furnace and from your power, then he will. But even if he doesn’t, Your Majesty may be sure that we will not worship your god, and we will not bow down to the gold statue that you have set up. That’s the kind of faith this soil scientist yearns for – a solid and unyielding foundational faith, that remains fixed and firm, “even if” in the face of certain death from famine or furnace. As a Christ-follower, I’m supposed to have this kind of faith but in reality, all too many times fear wins in the all-consuming mindset of the “what-if’s”. “What-if” I lose my husband, children, job, home, freedom, or _______ and am left empty? Or “What-if” this doesn’t happen and my dreams, hopes, or desires are left empty?
“What-if’s” worries demand my attention and sour my stomach in stress while “even-if” acceptance gives release, rest, and hope. The constant exchanges of “what-if” doubts for “even-if” trust cultivates that deep-rooted faith of John 15. Only a deep-rooted faith holds fixed and firm against stormy fears of failing finances, health, relationships, freedoms, or whatever the internet, TV, or email is hurling at me at the moment. The constant onslaught of fear constantly tries to overshadow my seeds of faith and decrease their potential harvest of joy and courage. I wish I was a Proverbs 31 woman who laughs at the time to come because she knows deep in the soil of her soul that only God is and will always be enough for whatever the future holds (see Proverbs 31:25b). Her life is set aside unto Christ.
Deep-rooted faith grows strong in the good ground of a life set aside unto Christ. For the life set aside unto Christ is the life that is continually being restored by resting in His provision, peace, and power (see Matthew 11:28-30 and Nehemiah 8:10). The principle of finding rest and restoration in God’s provision can also be seen in soil science. Set-aside land or fallow ground was supposed to be a regular farming practice in Jesus’ day for one year in every seven years as commanded in Scripture (see Exodus 23:11). For when ground is allowed to fallow, it has a Sabbath rest for the natural renewal and restoration of depleted organic matter, water, earthworm and microbial populations, soil particle aggregation, and nutrients. Similarly, poor people in Israel would also be restored in food and hope as they alone could harvest that grain or fruit which sprang up from the fallow ground as prompted by Creator God.
Only Jesus can give this weary soil scientist a true set-aside rest and restoration for only His yoke is easy and His burden light. And there in the fallow of resting, only Jesus can cultivate the soil of my soul into being good ground for a rich harvest of an “even-if” faith. Only Jesus can plant seeds of an “even-if” faith deep into this soil He has prepared for this time for His purpose and plan.
Thank You, Jesus, for calling me to come to You. I’m exhausted of drowning in the “what-if’s” and yearn for the wide-open spaces of Your “even-if” abundance. Please help me to stay here and rest in the fullness of You. Please satisfy me this morning with Your love.
If you’re interested in reading more on trading “what-if” for “even-if” thinking, go to:
*even-if – original source is The Scars That Have Shaped Me by Vaneetha Rendall Risner who also references Joni Eareckson Tada for this mode of thought
Written by and copyrighted to Beth Madison, Ph.D., 2021