Our amorphous fluffy God has a plan. It (God) has your best interests in mind, and, if you only submit to it enough, you’ll be blessed beyond your wildest imaginings with health for you and your family, wealth to provide for them (and to occasionally take them to Disney World, though, really, why would you), and promotion after promotion at work. Basically, trust enough and your fluffy-wuffy, Lamb carrying Jesus will take care of you and make sure you’re happy.
Hopefully this reference isn’t too dated, but it almost reads like that scene from Karate Kid where Mr. Miyagi has Daniel-san wax his car and paint the fence. Daniel sees no point in the actions and rebels at first, but it’s later revealed that all of his drudgery was really sick-ass karate moves disguised as household chores. And now he’s awesome—way more awesome than he would have been had he not put trust in his teacher.
Many Christians have a similar view towards God. God’s ways are strange, but, if we trust in him enough, he’ll reveal that all those seeming hardships were really just Him planning an elaborate birthday party for us; our presents: earthly love, health, wealth, and happiness.
And you know what? That’s exactly how it works! Just trust in God hard enough and you’ll get that yacht and house in Malibu and be blessed with being an amazing person that people like. Glad I could help.
JUST KIDDING it totally doesn’t. Otherwise, how could you explain stuff like this,
Or, going a little further back,
God isn’t a vending machine where you put in trust and out comes Rolex watches and cures for cancer. I’m sure he’d love to be able to do that, but we kind of botched all that up with a little something called “original sin.”
Nothing is for sure in this world. God doesn’t just rain down material blessings on his people. He acts through human means. That yacht and house in Malibu you want has to come through people. The store or realtor that sells you the boat or house, your boss who gave you your job, the company you work for that brings in the money, and your hard work earning a salary are all factors that determine whether or not you receive material blessings. Now God can definitely work through all that, but, most of the time, he leaves people to their own devices. You know, because we have free will, and God doesn’t trump that…for better or for worse.
My wife’s brother was killed in a car accident a few years ago. At the time, he was working with Students for Life, touring college campuses to raise awareness of the mercy of adoption and giving pregnant young women support. A drunk driver, attempting to pass in an oncoming lane, misjudged the distance and slammed his truck into my brother-in-law’s car. A woman and her unborn child were in the car as well, and they were killed instantly. Two others survived, and my brother-in-law struggled for a week in the ICU before he finally passed away. He was only 23. He didn’t get a chance to see his faith rewarded with earthly wealth, health, and happiness. In fact, he got all of that stripped away working directly for God’s purpose.
The thing is, God holds people’s actions into being—whether they are good or evil. He allowed the driver of the truck to get drunk and get behind the wheel, and he holds the consequences of that action, colliding into my brother-in-law’s car, in existence. He also allows the atrocities of ISIS to continue. He doesn’t always miraculously lift someone up out of the violence like Rollercoaster Tycoon because of their “faith.”
Really, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this out. The Dude (I’m using capitalization out of respect for God, not Jeff Bridges) said, “How blessed are you whenever people insult you, persecute you, and say all sorts of evil things against you falsely because of me!” Matthew 5:11. He didn’t follow that up with, “But that will never happen.”
It does happen. It has happened, and it’s happening now. Jesus’ earthly life culminated in being horrifically and painfully killed, and He’s supposed to be the primary example for all of us.
The real test of faith comes when these persecutions or terrible things are happening, and, trust me, they will happen. Maybe it won’t be being gunned down in the street, but it will be a troubled friendship, a lost job, addiction, a death, cancer, or what have you because we live in a fallen world and bad shit happens all the time. Scripture promises us trials and tells us how a Christian should percieve them. The apostle James writes: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” James 1:2-3 Yes, we are promised that God has our best in mind, but our best is not that he’s going to make all our dreams come true. His dream for us is virtue. Perseverance, holiness, character, not “success.”
It’s painfully naïve to believe that God will give us that solid-gold swimming pool we’ve always wanted when our brothers and sisters in Christ are being macheted. We need to come out of our American “God is my personal Santa Claus” mindset and see the big picture. We live in a world permeated with sin. It’s our job to navigate it the best we can, knowing that we will be rewarded for our faith, not with material wealth or a perfect life, but with a story that is worth living, an inspired and beautiful work of art, and ultimately, the glory of seeing Christ face to face in the life to come.
Of course, there are absolutely wonderful things in this life. The beauty of nature, friendships, love. There’s plenty to enjoy and relish in, and that’s why we need to treat every day as a gift. Lets take a step back and see all the good things we’ve been blessed with in life—good things that have no right to be there—and be truly, sincerely thankful.