|Painted November 2012 | Longview, Tx|
Day 16: Creative Grief
There have been a lot of ways this journey has manifested itself in creative ways - My tattoo, the photography, these blog posts...but the thing that comes to mind for this prompt is actually a piece I painted years ago after surfacing from a season of depression. One of my favorite stories in the Bible is when King Nebuchadnezzar demanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abendenego, among countless other Babylonians bow down to a massive gold statue of himself. The three men refused, and when brought to the king and given another chance to denounce their God they stood firm in their conviction. As punishment they were going to be thrown into a furnace to be killed, and the king asked in mockery "what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?” After these men were delivered into the furnace the king looked in amazement asking "Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?" while four stood amidst the flames in the distance, the fourth looking like 'the son of the gods'. Shadrach, Meshcach, and Abendegngo were delivered from the flames even as the men who cast them in were killed by the intensity of the heat. The Bible says that their robes were unharmed and the smell of smoke was not on them. This story is an incredible picture of faith, of sovereignty and of sacrifice; though I fear often the temptation when reading it is to cling to the fact that God delivered them from the fiery death they faced, that he reached down and saved them from their circumstance. But the part of this story that I love, the part of this story that changes the makeup of my heart, is the words from the three men just before being sent to their deaths. The king in his arrogance and rage asked them what god could rescue them from his hand, and the men replied to him "We do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 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. But even if 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." Our God is able to deliver us, but even if not... Even if not. This section of scripture continually challenges me to remember and believe that God can and is able to free us from our circumstance - be it loss, depression, illness, or pain of any kind, but that even if he doesn't, He is still good. And that maybe, just maybe, the very circumstance we find ourselves in is the one through which He will be most glorified. This painting with fire touched edges and burnt wood reminds me of the flames in Daniel three, and up the side the words "Even if not" in Hebrew. My circumstances threaten to swallow me some days like flames in this furnace of life, and this last year I have found myself continually in prayer asking God to change how this journey has looked for me. He hears me, he loves me, and he is able. But even if not, He is still good.