In the April General Conference of 2004, I heard Dennis E. Simmons of the Seventy give a talk titled, “But If Not…” In his talk, he shared the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego before the fiery furnace of Nebuchadnezzar. When given the choice to bow down before the king’s idols or be cast into the furnace, they responded with a voice of true faith:
“If it be so [that you cast us into the furnace], our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up."
Faced with one of the greatest trials of their lives, these men knew that God had the power to deliver them. They believed He would. But even if He didn’t – if the miracle never happened – they would rather be burned alive than forsake their faith.
In my life, I’ve often wondered about this question. I know that God has the ability to do anything. He has the power to help me fall in love with a girl, be happily married, and raise a family. And I truly believe that He will. But what happens if it doesn’t happen? What if I am incredibly righteous, date regularly, do everything I should… and yet the road to life opens out before me and I realize that I am standing in the furnace – that marriage and raising a family will never be an option in this life?
For a long time, I wasn’t willing to think of that possibility. The Lord would save me… and any other thought was a lack of faith. Now I realize that true faith, as shown by Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, is more than simply believing that God will grant an instant miracle when I reach a level of righteousness… so much more.
I realize that I may live with same-sex attraction for the rest of my life. I may never have a family in mortality. The miracles I want may never come. But I know that, whatever happens, God will take care of me. Things will turn out in the end. With that knowledge, I am committed to live according to the light of the gospel no matter what happens in my life. True faith is not contingent on results. True faith is more than just believing that God can and will empower and deliver us in life. It is acting on that belief whether or not He does.