If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up. Daniel 3:17, 18 (NASB)
OK, I have to admit it, I like to praise God when things work out like I hope but it’s the sound of crickets when He decides to work in a way that wasn’t in my idea of how things ought to conclude. Even if most of us don’t say it aloud when God doesn't do it the way we think He should most of us think “Man, I wouldn’t have done it that way. What’s wrong with you Lord? Didn't you see my way was better?”
Meshach, Shadrach, and Abed-nego were three Israelite slaves who served in the court of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Though living in a foreign land where foreign gods were worshipped these three young men had dedicated themselves to serving only the One True and Living God. When commanded to worship another god they immediately said the answer was something they didn’t even need to think through. They would worship no other one than the God Yahweh and even if He didn’t keep them from being consumed in this Babylonian crematorium they would still not bow to the king’s idol.
So what about today? What if God’s decision for us is to face the fire and be physically consumed or left with a situation in life that is less than desirable? What if He doesn’t heal that brain tumor, or that cancer, or make that miserable job better or changes that mate into the person we crave? Does that mean He is any less loving or any less perfect in His choices for us? Would we, like these three children of Israel, put our complete faith into His choice for us and trust that through the fire He has a plan in it somewhere that benefits me? If He had not saved those 3 boys physically then there would have been a plan and direction for their deaths that would have glorified Him in some way and they would have been safe in the place He would have brought their souls. For myself praise is a two-way street that a lot of times leave me standing at the corner of ‘What I Want’ and ‘What God Knows is Best.’ Deciding to head down the street called ‘What God Knows is Best’ and trusting in that outcome is something that many times after the fact brings great understanding why the best choice was for me to endure the flames. I don’t need to like it but God does want me to grow through it. God is good and He is perfect in His choices all the time, not just when He pulls me out of the fire.