Message from Dunkirk


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Bible Reading: Daniel 3:13-18

Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace. . . . 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.   Daniel 3:17-18, KJV

IN LATE MAY of 1940, during World War II, the German army had overrun the tiny European nation of Belgium. As Hitler’s tanks and troops marched across Belgium, they pushed the defenders—British, French, and Belgian troops—toward the sea.

Finally, the Allied forces of Great Britain, France, and Belgium were cornered at a seaport in northern France called Dunkirk. It looked as though all 338,000 of them would be wiped out by Hitler’s approaching armies.

Back in Britain, as the British people waited anxiously, a simple three-word message was transmitted from the doomed armies at Dunkirk: “But if not.”

Suddenly, the island nation of Great Britain sprang into action. Eight hundred boats of every size and description were called into action. Every battleship, gunboat, fishing boat, motorboat, yacht—even rowboats!—journeyed across the English Channel to help rescue those troops from Dunkirk and return them all safely to Britain.

What was it about that three-word message? How could three short words—only eight letters-start all that?

The Miracle of Dunkirk happened because the British people recognized a phrase from the Bible. They recognized the phrase from the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who trusted in God, even when the king threatened to throw them into a fiery furnace for refusing to worship an idol. And the British people knew that their troops were saying, “We will not give up, even if we die.”

You may never be thrown into a fiery furnace. You probably will never be backed into a corner by thousands of tanks and troops. But there will be many times in your life when you’ll have to choose between doing the right thing and giving in to sin. You’ll face times when doing the right thing will be hard or embarrassing.

At such times remember that doing right is still right even when it’s hard or when there seems to be no immediate reward. Doing right is still right even if it might be embarrassing or get you into trouble. God can deliver you, and he may even reward you for doing right—but if not, it’s still right to do right.

REFLECT: Have you ever done the right thing and been embarrassed for it? Have you ever done the right thing and gotten into trouble for it? Have you ever done the right thing and not been rewarded for it? If you answered yes to any of those questions, were you sorry you did the right thing? Are you still sorry? Do you think we should do right even when it’s hard? Even when there’s no reward? Why or why not?

PRAY: “Lord, I want to be the kind of person who does right even when it’s hard. Please help me to make right choices today, even if it’s hard or if there’s no reward for doing right.”


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