What Now? – Embrace A New Reality

At Gateway Church in Austin, I shared week one in a two part series What Now?

Right now, this planet with everything and everyone on it is living through a pandemic. This seems more like science fiction than reality, but it is very real. Some of us have been sick. Some of us have lost jobs or our business. Some of us know people who have passed away. Some of us have been working to save lives on the front lines. Some of us have struggled with loneliness, anxiety, or depression. And, some of us have fared just fine. No matter what your experience has been over these last several weeks, the question that looms large is, “What now?”

NEXT STEPS:

Work through the following questions and Scriptures on your own, and get together with your running partner, life group, or friends and family to talk through what you are learning.

Embracing a New Reality – Next Steps

MESSAGE VIDEO:

MESSAGE NOTES:

Pandemic. Don’t you guys wish this was over already?

Don’t you wish we could go back to the way things were in 2019?

Think about what I just said: Even 2019 looks good now!

Not too long ago, we heard about pandemics in history books or watched in movies like The Planet of the Apes or Outbreak, but now we are facing this in our lifetime.

We’ve gone from empty streets to crowded streets filled with people who are hurting and angry protesting the inequality and injustice in our world.

In the middle of the mix of emotions and challenges, no matter what your experience has been like over these last several weeks, the question that looms largest is What Now?

The pandemic has led to economic devastation for some.

It has led to illness and death for others.

It has created an existential crisis leading to more of us struggling with depression and anxiety and anger than even before.

And our issues aren’t just with this pandemic.

The pandemic has exposed even more the disparity among those who have and those who do not have enough.

The pandemic has further exposed our divisions and our fears.

According to United Nations chief António Guterres, the pandemic has also brought about a “tsunami of hate and xenophobia, scapegoating and scare-mongering” which he explains gives us the opportunity “to stand up against hate, treat each other with dignity, and take every opportunity to spread kindness.”

But are we going to be ok?

And where is God in all of this?

Today and next week, we are looking at how we can respond with a faith that is bigger than our circumstances.

We can trust that God IS with us in the midst of this, and that God is bigger than our fears and the challenges we face.

We are all tempted to

  •  Fear the future.
  • Or feel like we cannot enjoy life until there is a cure or a vaccine.
  • Or feel like nothing will ever get better.
  • Or we might remain in denial and just act like everything is ok right now.

So let me ask you: are you the type that likes the good news or the bad news first?

Let me start with the good news: Not only is God with us in the midst of this, but He has not forgotten us. He is still at work in remarkable and amazing ways. And one day God will make all things right.

Here’s the bad news: God does not promise life won’t be hard. The world in which we live is sick and broken and one day God will make all things right, but that moment is not right now.

We can learn from others how to walk with God in the midst of adversity.

The Scriptures give us case studies. We discover God at work in the hearts of others who faced challenging times. Some fail. Some prevail. We can learn from both.

Today and next week, we are looking at Jeremiah 29 which includes one of the most famous verses in the Bible. It’s a beautiful verse with a promise! You might have even memorized this verse or have a t-shirt with this verse on it.

Jeremiah 29:11 says:

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

God loves you and has a plan for you.

Isn’t that beautiful!?

The Context of This Beautiful Promise

This promise is even more remarkable when we understand the context.

Usually history books are written by the winners, but the Bible is not like that all. Early in the story of God and humanity, we discover that the Hebrew people were “the chosen ones.” They were blessed so that through them “all people” would be blessed. They were not blessed for their own sake, but through them all people or other translations say “All nations” or “all families” or “all tribes” will be blessed. God’s love is for all people from every tribe, every people group, every nation.

  • And yet the story of the Bible shows how the chosen people of Israel are enslaved by the Pharaohs of Egypt for hundreds of years.
  • They are finally free to go into the Promised Land, but they wandered for 40 years.
  • They finally make it to the Promised Land, but it was not just given to them. They have to fight for it.
  • This goes on for hundreds of years.
  • Finally they have a unified Kingdom under King David. This is about 3000 years ago. But this was short lived. By the end of his son Solomon’s reign, King Solomon was more like the Pharaoh of Egypt than he was his father.
  • Within just two generations the kingdom of Israel fell into civil war. Eventually the Northern Kingdom was defeated by the Assyrians about 700 years before Jesus and then about 100 years later the Southern Kingdom of Judah was defeated by the Babylonians.
  • Many of the people of Israel were taken from their homes and forced to live in Babylon. They were in exile from their home.

Have you been feeling like you have been in exile – apart from the life you wished you still had?

The Scriptures show us how to live with peace, joy, love, and faith even in the wilderness, even when oppressed by others, even in the midst of injustice, even when our home no longer feels like our home, even when we are in exile.

Jeremiah was a Messenger of God’s justice and grace about 2600 years ago.

Knowing the context, let’s go through the verses building up to the promise that God knows the plans He has for us and that they are good plans.

1. Lead and take care of your family well

4 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. – Jeremiah 29:4-6

We are called to change our world, and it starts with those right in front of us.

Start with those in your quaranteam.

We are called to serve those right in front of us.

For some, this time in quarantine has been really good.

  • Some of you have called your extended family more than usual.
  • Some of you have grown to really enjoy your roommates now that you are all working from home together.
  • Some of you who are married have grown closer to your spouse.
  • Some of you with kids have been investing in them spiritually like never before using our Kids Online Experience [gatewaychurch.com/kidsonline].

And this has been a beautiful season for you!

My wife and I have two kids – Caleb who is 20 and Trevi who just graduated from high school. We have had more meals together, more family movies together, more walks together, and more great conversations than we would have had. One of the funniest moments was when our daughter Trevi was peppering us with questions about our relationship. At one point she asked me and my wife:

“So when did Dad peak physically? When did Mom peak?”

Now normally, I am smart enough to avoid answering questions like this. She insisted and I thought this could be a good teaching moment about there’s more to a relationship than appearances plus we have been running out of things to talk about.

So I thought about it and said the truth: “I consider your mom gorgeous right now! But if you are asking about her physical peak I would say 32. It was after both you kids were born. She was in great shape. She had long curly hair. She was still willing to water ski so I will say 32”

I was relieved as my wife was not offended at all. Instead, she looked at Trevi a bit nervous. You see, while I was thinking about my answer, she had already shared hers with Trevi. Trevi encouraged her: “Go ahead. Tell him.”

Deborah looked me in the eyes and shared how much she loves me and considers me so handsome even now before saying: “Well I think you were at your peak at 19.”

19?!? Good thing we met so young!!

As Trevi and I laughed, she explained that it was at 19 that I had such long and luscious hair! That made us laugh even more!

What have some of your best times been with your family or your roommates – your quaranteam during this time?

I hope you have taken advantage of this extraordinary situation to be there for those in your home.

At the same time, this has been a really challenging time for all of us in varying degrees.

I have friends out of state now moving towards separation. This season has made things worse for them.

Many of us have lost our cool more than we would like to admit. Feeling trapped at our home or feeling lonely on our own, we are unable to get away or spend quality time with other people in our lives which can make things difficult.

Personally, I have had to lean into my 12 steps work more than usual.

We have all had moments of tension, moments of frustration, moments when anger boils over. Maybe this has happened to you. As human beings, we are so complex. We may be lashing out at our kids, at our spouse, at our parents, at our roommates, or even at our co-workers, the grocery clerk, or complete strangers, or people online in our attempt to try to feel like we can control someone because we are struggling in a world so out of control.

So in this season, lead and take care of your family well.

It is easier said than done, but make doing so a priority.

But it doesn’t stop there. We also see in this passage something remarkable. God tells the people in exile to…

2. Seek the good of the city

Jeremiah 29:7 says:

“Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

Think about this, in which city did the exiles live? In Babylon!

They were living in exile as neighbors of their enemies!

Think about that for a moment. What if someone took you hostage and forced you to live in Oklahoma! How would you respond if you knew God wanted you to bring good to the people who had been your enemies?!

God tells them to seek the good of their city.

This goes against what our culture values or honors. In our culture, we want revenge. Just consider our films, television, music, or watch the news. We want to hurt people who have hurt us. Seeking the good of our enemies makes no sense!

God’s love always extends beyond who we want it to include.

“Seek the good of the city?” What does that even mean?

The Hebrew word translated “seek” means to “diligently desire” or even “require.”

It means more than just hoping for the best but doing something about it.

We are to “seek” to “diligently desire” or even to “require” “shalom” for where we live.

Shalom is such a big word. It’s a word so big that one word in English cannot fully capture the meaning so the translators used two words – “peace and prosperity,” but even that doesn’t fully do it justice.

In her book Roadmap to Reconciliation, Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil points out that Shalom actually refers to “the world as God intended it to be. It’s the word most often used in Scripture to describe God’s intentions for the world.”

We are to work towards the peace, the prosperity, the harmony, the wholeness, the completeness, the welfare and the tranquility of our city.

  • It doesn’t just mean we say hello to our neighbors. It means we take care of our neighbors.
  • It doesn’t just mean we wish our co-workers well. It means we strive to help them succeed.
  • It doesn’t just mean we hope for the best for those who are struggling in our city with poverty, injustice, inequality, or brokenness. It means we are helping them overcome their struggles and opening doors of opportunity.

Here’s the amazing thing. When we do this, our whole city is better and so are we.

This reminds me of the spiritual principle Jesus shared in Matthew 10:39 “…whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.”

One of the positives in this difficult season has been reconnecting with old friends. I received a Facebook message from a woman named McCall who had come to faith at Mosaic in Los Angeles while we were there. It was 15 years ago that she was spiritually searching and she came up to me on a Sunday and said:

“Sometimes I just wish Jesus was here to give me a hug.”

I looked around to see who could give her a hug. Not seeing anyone, I gave her a hug and then it dawned on me. I told her:

“The next time you need a hug, offer one to someone who needs a hug.”

You see every time I have ever hugged someone, they have always hugged me back. Except that one time with my grandpa, but other than that, when you hug someone they hug you back.

What I did not realize until we started messaging this past week was the backstory. She wrote to me:

“I was really struggling because I wanted what those around me had… I felt so alone and told you I wanted a hug. I thought that if Jesus were real, and loved me, surely He’d know i “needed” to be held and would “send me” a hug through one of “His Followers.”

Isn’t that amazing! I am so glad I hugged her!

Even more remarkable is what happened after that. McCall decided to follow Jesus.

She wrote me the following:

 “[Instead of remaining a victim], you helped me see that I was being a volunteer for that loneliness and encouraged me to be an active participant in ALL of my relationships by giving VS “expecting” to receive. It has been through Giving that I Get, and God helped teach that to me through you… Now whenever I WANT something, I ask God to help me OFFER that same thing. And it has worked like a charm for over 15 years now!

Isn’t that amazing?!

When you and I seek the good of others, we are blessed.

Science proves what the Scriptures have said all along.

Laurie Santos, a psychology professor at Yale University was quoted in an article saying:

“The intuition that helping others is the key to our well-being right now fits with science. There’s lots of research showing that spending our time and money on other people can often make us happier than spending that same time or money on ourselves.”

She also said: “Taking time to do something nice for someone else is a powerful strategy for improving our well-being.”

So let’s be honest with ourselves for a moment.

  • Who are you serving?
  • Who are you investing in?
  • Who would miss you if you had to move?

One way so many of you are blessing our city is through our giving together to mobilize our church to serve our city.

Since mid March, the number of people watching on Sundays, connected to groups, and the number of needs we are trying to meet have all gone up. During these past 3 months, our giving has decreased by 20%. We live within our means as a church so even though needs have gone up, we have made cuts to what we can do ministry-wise by 20%. This decrease in giving makes sense, some of us have lost jobs or have been put on furlough or our businesses are in jeopardy. It’s surprising it wasn’t more.

The reason our giving did not go down even more was because some of you have kept giving in spite of the uncertainty. And some of you started giving more to God through Gateway. Some of you even gave your stimulus checks to God.

Why would some of you be so generous?

  • I think it is because you know that what we do together to serve the city physically and spiritually is more important than ever right now.
  • You know that through our church is one of the best ways that we can seek the good of the city through our food pantry, our recovery groups, through our life groups and community groups, our work with kids and students, our serving teams and city networks which have partnered with local businesses like SLAB BBQ to feed 100s of refugee families out of work during COVID-19, and what we experience together in our inspire services on Sunday.
  • You know people need hope and help now more than ever before.
  • You know that some cannot give as they did before, and you wanted to take up the slack.
  • You have been blessed abundantly so you give back to God’s work through your church.
  • You have experienced what Jesus said: It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

If you consider, Gateway Church your church home

  • I want to encourage you to trust God in this way too.
  • If you aren’t giving, choose to start giving regularly to invest in God’s work among people.
  • If you are giving, consider giving more than you are now so we don’t have to make deeper cuts in the lean summer months–cuts that will not be easily reversible.

By giving together, we can do more good for the city together, and ironically, we are blessed more in giving than we are in receiving.

And on our own, let’s each seek the good of the part of the city where we live and work and play.

3. Don’t listen to “fake religious news”

8 Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. 9 They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the Lord. – Jeremiah 29:8-9

That’s what the people of Israel were doing. They were ignoring Jeremiah who was being honest with them. Instead they were listening only to those who were telling them what they wanted to hear.

Who are you listening to?

Only those who tell you what you want to hear?

Here’s the thing. We can find people to affirm whatever we are looking for.

More than anything, we need to listen to God’s voice in the midst of all the noise.

Too often we get stuck in an echo chamber.

You know, social media gives us the ability to express ourselves. Like everything else, there can be a dark side too.

Let me give you an example, when you post a bitter or condemining post on Facebook it makes some of your friends mad and some of your friends excited and some of your friends sad that you are so angry and divisive. Then before you know it, you have eliminated some of the very people God wants you to love and serve and even influence. Either they stop paying attention to you or did you know the Facebook algorithm just sends you the posts of others just like you and hides those with whom you disagree.

As a result, you end up in an echo chamber, and your ability to share God’s truth and love is diminished.

To make it more complicated, did you know that news agencies know that the two best ways to generate clicks and viewership is to report on what is most threatening and anxiety-producing?

No wonder we get so triggered!

If you sense you need to post about something, ask God if He is leading you and consider is what I am posting bringing people together and moving the conversation forward or bringing more division? Consider: what is my goal in posting this?

If you read someone’s post that frustrates you, try calling them or sending them a private message instead of blasting them on their page.

We need to seek to understand not only to be understood.

Fake religious news says “I’m right, I know what’s true, so they deserve to be treated this way because God’s on my side–the side of truth.”  It’s fake because God says “seek the prosperity of your enemies.” Love your enemies, Jesus said.

We are filling our minds with bad news which does affect us.

It is important to be informed, but make sure you are taking your thoughts and feelings to God to process, to people in your church family to process, and even to a Christian counselor.

Consider: are you spending more time reading the news than the time you are spending time with God in prayer, reading the Scriptures, journaling, connecting with your church family, singing out to Him?

Here’s the truth about this global pandemic.

  • 100,000 people have died just in the United States. That is tragic.
  • People have gotten sick and will get sick.
  • The way we relate to each other has changed.
  • Even if we get a cure or a vaccine, things will not go back exactly to the way they were.

It’s also possible, this may last awhile.

We keep talking about life after the pandemic.

We need to come to peace with reality, we need to talk about life during a pandemic.

It’s important to let yourself grieve that.

We aren’t good with grief. We aren’t good with loss.

At some point, we need to realize that loss is a part of life!

We should not be surprised. The world is broken, and all will be made right one day!

Too often, we have this false belief that if I trust God and do all the right things then He will give me all the good things in life.

One of my favorite songs during this quarantine has been “Promises” which we heard the band sing earlier. I listen to it in the mornings as I walk our maltipoo and at night as I am trying to focus on God rather than all the worries that can fill my mind before bed. This morning, I listened to it as I drove through downtown praying for peace and for change and for those adversely affected by what happened last night.  In it is a line that says “You’ll never let me down.” What does that mean?

God does not promise a life without struggles.
Instead, He promises to be with us in the struggle. He will never abandon us!

We need to lean into our faith in the midst of hardship. Too often it is when someone feels God is not answering their prayers the way they want so they pull away from God. Instead, lean in.

The Bible shows us a way to process our grief, a way to make it through suffering. There is a word common in the Bible we have lost in our culture. It’s the word lament. We need to learn to lament. When we don’t, those feelings come out sideways.

Lament is not the feeling of grief but the expression of grief. God invites us to lament.

In fact, there are Psalms of Lament and even an entire book of the Bible called Lamentations written by Jeremiah after Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians.

Dr. Tim Mackie of the Bible Project described Lamentations this way:

“Suffering in silence is not a virtue in the book of lamentations. God’s people are not asked to deny their emotions but voice their protest, to vent their feelings, and pour it out before God…. Lament and prayer and grief are a crucial part of the journey of faith of God‘s people in a broken world.”

In January I attended a course with seminary professor Dr. Gregory Cuellar who along with his family is part of Gateway in South Austin. Little did I know how relevant this book would become.

He pointed out that “Lamentations was written from the vantage point of the captive, the victim rather than the victor who was exposed to hyper violence and the stench of death.”

The first word of the first verse in the first chapter is a word phrase “How is this?!”

  • How is this?!
  • How is this possible?
  • How did this happen?

Have you found yourself feeling that way?

What have you lost that has been painful to lose?

There are things we are grieving right now.

Have you let yourself grieve? Even in the small things?

  • We lost our spring.
  • We lost our vacation.
  • We lost time with extended families.
  • We lost birthday parties.
  • We lost Easter or Mother’s Day with our Moms.
  • We lost senior prom.
  • We lost graduation.
  • And we may lose more in this season.

It is ok to grieve those things. They may seem small, but it is ok to admit disappointment and grieve.

As a church family, we shared a time of lament for the death of Ahmaud Arbery.

Just a couple of weeks later, we lament and grieve the death of George Floyd.

Think about this: in just the last few weeks, we have seen videos of 2 American men – African American men – dying in the street in broad daylight in a way that was so unjust and so wrong. This is a tragedy that continues to happen in our country!

  • We lament and grieve injustice felt by many people of color. We stand with those who want change in our society so that innocent men are not assumed guilty or even killed because of the color of their skin.
  • We lament and grieve how peaceful protestors can be lumped in with those who start looting.
  • And we also lament and grieve how a few bad police are casting a dark shadow on the many good, Christ-following law officers here among us who risk their lives to protect.
  • We grieve how evil pits whole groups of people, races, professions, against each other–as enemies.
  • And Sadly, there is so much more injustice that never makes the news and that we don’t see because there wasn’t a video camera.

This world is broken! We are broken!

So we grieve. We lament. And we take action steps. 

We don’t listen to fake religious news that pits people against people.

Instead, we listen to Jesus, we pray for our enemies, we work for the Shalom of all people in the city by doing what we can to make things right. Above all, not adding to the pitting of people against people, but bringing people together to seek the welfare of all.

I also want to ask you:

  • Have you put words to what you are feeling during this pandemic?
  • And during this time of sadness and injustice?

Even in the midst of the violent destruction of his home, Jeremiah writes of hope in the midst of Lamentations:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” – Lamentations 3:22:24

Waiting is hard. We don’t like to wait.

God is with us in our pain. That is also the Truth.

God is with us – even in our suffering.

What have you lost?
Also consider: What have you lost that is a good thing to lose?

In this season, pursue God that you may know Him more and experience more of His presence in your life.

God is at work and doing something significant.

Do you know during this season we have had so many people come to faith in Jesus?!
We have heard of so many people experiencing miraculous healing.
We have heard of relational breakthroughs.

4. Focus on what is at hand

Just before God promises: “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

There is another promise that I am sure may not have been exciting news for those now living in exile.

This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. – Jeremiah 29:10


In other words, one day you will get to go back – 70 years from now! That’s a long time! Carlos will talk more about this next week, but right now I just want to point this out:

We may not know when this struggle will end, but we don’t have to wait to enjoy life until it is over. We don’t have to have any less love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, or self-control. The same Spirit of God that gives us the capacity to experience this in the past is just as strong today!

This pandemic really has simplified things for us.

  • How great would it be to allow some of the things we are glad to have lost stay gone?
  • How great would it be as we create our new normal to keep some of those things that we have added to our lives during this time?

Jesus summarized the message of the Scriptures with what should be our priorities:

Loving God and Loving People

When you aren’t sure what to do: focus on loving God and loving people.

Just do the next right thing that is in front of you.

We have always said: “Come as you are.”

During this season, we have been saying: “stay where you are.”

Now let me encourage you: “When you can, stay where you are but don’t stay as you are!”

We should be growing in the midst of this! We should be spending time in prayer, spending time in the Scriptures, spending time with others in our church family in groups seeking to grow. We should be serving others and seeking to reach others.

We should come out of this stronger spiritually than when we started this.
We should come out of this more relationally connected than when we started this.

Let me ask you: Is Jesus in your quaranteam?  

Do you have others you’re growing spiritually with here at Gateway?

Church doesn’t open back up when we meet in a building on Sundays –church is open now! We are the Church loving God by growing together spiritually.

Get into a group in this season–try something new–so you come out, and we come out, relationally and spiritually stronger.

People have lived through pandemics before. Humans are resilient.

Maybe you’ve seen some of the memes going around the internet that say:

  • During Quarantine, Shakespeare wrote King Lear, Macbeth, and Antony and Cleopatra.
  • During Quarantine Isaac Newton discovered gravity and invented calculus.
  • During quarantine I learned to bake sour dough bread and watched the entire 8 seasons of The Office!

The point is this: let’s not put our life on hold. Let’s move forward loving, God, loving people, and living out what He has called us to do.

A great deal of the Hebrew Scriptures was written during this time of the Exile including the book of Daniel. We can learn to live in exile from the Scriptures.

Daniel was one of those taken away from his home and forced to serve in the king’s court in Babylon.

Daniel does something really remarkable. He prays on behalf of his nation in Daniel 9. Even though he was not the cause of their fall, even though he had not been in leadership when the earlier generation made bad decisions that directly affected his life, he prays

We have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled… We are covered with shame… because of our unfaithfulness to you…. this disaster has come on us, yet we have not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our sins and giving attention to your truth…. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.” – Daniel 9:4-19

We do not have to remain the victims of the broken world we inherited from the previous generations.

  • We can ask God for forgiveness and healing.
  • We can ask those hurt by the system set up by previous generations for forgiveness.
  • It’s also important that we confess our own failures to stand up for others and confess our own prejudice.

We can work to love people and bring equality and opportunity for people from every nation, every background, every people group.

We don’t have to be victims of this pandemic.
We can rise above and do what God is calling each of us to do.

Last year in our Outlaws series we looked at Daniel, and John Burke shared a story of some of those in exile whose lives were threatened for not bowing down to the king.

He asked the question: Are we willing to trust God when there is not a happy ending?

He framed it by encouraging us to have an “even… if” faith rather than an “if… then.”

“If… then” faith says:

“If I do this God, then you have to do that—or I’m not following you.”

This is actually a conditional kind of relationship. Many of us who were raised in the church have this kind of understanding of God. You can know if that is your tendency if your relationship with God feels more motivated by guilt, shame, or obligation. And we believe that if we do enough good things it will offset the bad things so God will be obligated to us.

Instead of religion, God invites us into a relationship with Him. We can actually know God and experience His divine nature and divine power. We can experience a connection with the Spirit of God and the fruit of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.

So what is “even… if” faith?

It comes from this passage from the story from when Daniel’s friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were about to be thrown into the fiery furnace because they were unwilling to bow down and worship the king. They said to the king:

17  If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand.  18  But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” – Daniel 3:15-18

It’s the call to trust God even if doing so means we face challenges and difficulties.

In the end, they survived the fire, and there was a fourth man in there with them. Some say it was an angel. Some say it was God Himself.

We can endure knowing that God is with us in the fire!

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