I’ve been thinking a lot about this word “nevertheless” lately. Three passages in the Bible have been stewing together with this word “nevertheless” swirling around in the middle: Job, the fiery furnace and Paul’s thorn in the flesh.
First off Job. Satan is given permission to take almost everything Job has–his wealth, his children, his health. Then his wife encourages him to curse God and die, and his friends are well, less than encouraging, but Job replies to all this
“Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him.” (Job 13:15)
Next was the favorite of all Bible stories, the fiery furnace. Faced with the options of death at the hand of the Babylonian king or bowing down to an idol, they chose death. The king gives them one more chance to choose a fiery death or bowing down to the idol. They reply:
” 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 3:16-18)
Then Paul, with his thorn in the flesh. He asked three times for God to remove it. I’m sure the three times weren’t three, “Umm, God could you take this away?” I’m sure this was deep intercession and prayer and fasting. This is Paul after all, but what did he get for his pleading?
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.(2 Cor 12:9-10)
Three situations: grief and loss, a walk through a furnace so hot the ropes burned off and the captors burned up on the way, and a thorn in the flesh. Three times God could have intervened in what we would have said was a supernatural way that would have made the pain go away. He could have brought the children back to life, He could have caused the king to die and the boys not be thrown in the fire, and He could have removed the thorn in Paul’s flesh, be it physical ailment, a temptation that seemed too strong, or whatever.
But He didn’t.
Job’s children were still dead. For always. They didn’t come back, ever. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego walked into the furnace. Paul kept his thorn. They all went through the blood, sweat and tears of life. God didn’t take it away. We do people a great disservice when we tell them “just believe in God and your life will be great! Nothing bad will ever happen if you just believe and ask hard enough and have enough faith. He’ll heal you (or your child)/take away the temptation for the sin you find yourself enmeshed in/give you all the money you need.”
Well, He CAN do all those things. And sometimes He does. But, in His wisdom, sometimes He doesn’t. Sometimes, the flood sweeps every possession you have away, and there is no insurance to buy more and you are left with nothing but the clothes on your back. Sometimes the critically ill child isn’t healed, and he dies. Sometimes the job doesn’t come and you don’t get to keep your house. Sometimes God doesn’t take away those sinful desires though you ask with all your heart. Sometimes your spouse doesn’t come back.
God can use anything and everything the world throws at you–whatever depths of depravity you’ve sunk to, whatever financial catastrophe that has befallen you, whatever has happened (both in and out of your control) to your children or your health, or if your marriage is disintegrating right before your eyes. Satan wants us to “curse God” and die. God wants us to call on Him, and trust Him and love Him with all that we have and run to Him. He wants us to run into His arms, so He can be with us always, even to the ends of the earth. He wants to walk with us through the grief and the fire and the thorn. We all have a choice. Are you going be a nevertheless person or not?
These three situations in the Bible show us that sometimes, the better outcome results from walking through the loss or the fire or the thorn with the Comforter. God talked to Job. Then He eventually restored his wealth, health and ten more children. It never would have happened if Job hadn’t been a righteous man who lost everything, but nevertheless chose to persevere in his faith in God’s goodness.
Our three Israeli boys walked with Jesus! In the fire. They walked through fire with the Light of the World. It never would have happened if they hadn’t been thrown in the furnace–for obeying God’s law rather than man’s.
Paul’s thorn and his acceptance of the burden–and God’s refusal to remove it–led to Christ’s power resting on Paul. His weakness gave room for the manifestation of Christ’s power in his life, and Paul could then boast of his weakness instead of despair that it wasn’t taken away. His own personal weakness gave a powerful testimony to the power of Jesus to change lives.
So, God is able to remove or fix or heal__________(enter your deepest sorrow or most wretched situation or worst temptation here), but He may choose to allow it to stay in my life. Nevertheless, I will hope in Him, I will praise Him, I will trust Him to give me the grace I need to walk through the situation (with Him on the path with me), I will believe He will never leave me or forsake me.
It’s a matter of our will.
Our choice which path we choose–one, deceiving path of despair that blames God for our hardship, as we run away from God. The other, the path of hope that trusts Him as we run into His arms, and walk with Him on this path of life, grasping tightly to His hand, refusing to take a step without that still, small voice saying “This is the way. Walk in it.” Both paths WILL, at some point, lead through the valley of the shadow of death. Guaranteed. But the journey through the valley depends which of the two paths we choose. No one can make that choice for us. Choose right now. Will this be a nevertheless day? A nevertheless battle? A nevertheless life? Ask the Lord for the courage to make it so in your life.