I don’t know about y’all, but I’ve seen every episode of VeggieTales (and I still know all of the songs). One of my favorites and most-watched, was the episode with Rack, Shack, and Benny. They refused to bow down to a big golden bunny, so they’re thrown into the furnace. Now obviously, as I’ve gotten older I’ve learned the story behind this episode. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow down to King Nebuchadnezzar’s gold statue. When threatened to be thrown into the roaring furnace for not bowing, the three men respond: “If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up” (Daniel 3:17-18).
The three men are literally saying that God is capable of rescuing them — of a miracle! But that even if He doesn’t save their lives, He is still good. Let that sink in. We know our God can perform miracles. But even when He doesn’t, He is still good. We hear about miracles all the time. Unexplained things that defy reason or science. When they happen, we praise Him. But when they don’t — when people aren’t saved by a miracle — we should still praise him. That’s where our faith is really tested.
Daniel 3:18 is common throughout your local home store and across social media: “And if not, He is still good.” It is put over inspirational pictures, it is painted onto wall decor, and it’s printed onto pillows.
Chris and I had a 17 week ultrasound to determine our baby’s gender. The ultrasound technician printed out the gender, sealed it in an envelope, and sent us on our way. Chris and I were so excited; the envelope was burning a hole in my purse. We immediately went to FedEx to mail it to my Godmother. She would be the only one to know the gender before our big reveal! Little did Chris and I know, our ultrasound technician had seen the cleft lip that day. Because she wasn’t licensed, she would have to contact our obstetrician, who could officially diagnose the cleft. We left her office that day with no clue that our baby was anything other than healthy and “normal”. But that was the day Christian’s cleft was discovered.
And if not…
That was also the day my mom and I went shopping. We went to a cute boutique shop by my house and spent a few hours looking at all the cute clothes and decor. They had an adorable baby section that we spent the most time in. We held up the clothes to each other, imagining if my baby would one day wear the adorable unicorn raincoat or the dapper bow ties. I had no idea we only had a few more days of feeling worry and care free.
The only thing I actually bought that day was a pillow. A pillow that read, “And if not, He is still good.” I knew the story the verse had come from. But I never really knew what it meant. I went home, put the pillow on our couch, and went about my week.
After finding out about Christian’s cleft, the pillow mocked me. It was a constant reminder of the day Christian’s cleft was discovered. It was a constant reminder of the joy I felt thinking Christian wouldn’t have any complications. And it marked the beginning of many “if nots”.
- Maybe the technician was wrong and the obstetrician will confirm our baby is healthy. “But if not…”
- Maybe the cleft will be small (known as incomplete), which would mean only one surgery. “But if not…”
- Maybe the palate won’t be affected, which would mean less surgeries. “But if not…”
- Maybe I’ll still be able to breastfeed. “But if not…”
- Maybe I will get my miracle. Maybe she’ll be born cleft-free! “But if not…”
It got to the point where I wanted to burn that stupid pillow, that stupid reminder that God was not rescuing me from the flames. I couldn’t utter the words that He was “still good” when month after month my prayers weren’t being answered. When God is answering our prayers and fulfilling our wishes, He is most definitely good. But when He isn’t, it’s a lot harder to cry out that He is still good.
He is still good
It was hard for me to see it then, but God still is so good. He’s given us a beautiful, happy baby girl. I’m not saying that I rejoice every day for our circumstance. I still have moments of grief. Just last night, Chris and I had to take out and clean Christian’s NAM. I noticed part of her gum was bleeding, and she seemed in pain. I cried. Chris held me. I was frustrated: frustrated that our sweet girl has to endure pain and surgeries and future potential complications. A phrase that has been on my lips the most this past year is “it’s not fair”. I’ve looked to Chris and my parents with tears streaming down my face. “It’s not fair.” “It’s not fair.” “It’s not fair.” It isn’t fair that my baby girl is faced with these circumstances. But you know what? He is still good.
God doesn’t promise to always rescue us from the flames, but he does promise that we won’t have to go through the flames alone. I mentioned all the moments this past year that can be classified as a “God thing”. All those times that I witnessed Him still being good, still by my side. Because of Christian’s story, I’ve gotten to connect with people from India to South Africa to the United Kingdom. People born with clefts, people pregnant with cleft cuties, people who are suffering during their pregnancy. God is still good. Christian’s story is inspiring and comforting people. We were fortunate enough to get pregnant. We have a sweet baby girl. Besides the cleft, she is healthy. She’s eating well and gaining weight. She’s happy. She’s a light to everyone she meets.
In the future, I may have moments where I’ll need to be reminded that He is still good, but lucky for me I have a pillow sitting on my couch to help remind me.