August 4, 2010
Why Does God Bless Us?
Katherine Britton, Crosswalk.com News & Culture
For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
Matthew 5:45, NIV
Data on U.S. jobs numbers might be less dismal recently, but that doesn't mean finding a job is getting easier. In my church's experience, disappearing industries have shaken out long-time workers, and other industries are crawling back at a pitiful pace.
As I see hard times hitting friends, I feel something like survivors' guilt. My family has taken some hits, but our boat hasn't sprung any severe leaks. We're weathering the storm pretty well - other faithful believers are struggling just to stay afloat. Life is going pretty well right now. The storm makes me look to heaven and wonder, Why God? Why them and not us? Why us and not them?
The particulars of why life goes easy for some believers while others experiencing suffering remains a divine mystery. None of us know God's mind or his unique purpose in our lives. Christ clearly told his disciples that suffering does not imply sin in every instance, or even discipline. Likewise, we can't say blessing comes from great obedience. Both conclusions dispense with humility and assume we know the plans of an infinite God. So how do we view earthly blessings without making undue assumptions?
One of my favorite bloggers, Jon Acuff, recently wrote about his fear of too much blessing. He described it as the moment when everything is "too quiet" in the horror movie and the bad guy jumps from behind the door. God doesn't push us into the mire just because we've exceeded his blessing quota. Acuff put it this way:
"It's the idea that if good things happen to you, God will also allow something bad to happen in order to balance the scale. At the heart of this is some sort of corrupted form of Karma and justice…[but when] you doubt God's goodness, you doubt the very core of who he is." Looking at this fallen world, I can mistake it for God's perfect design. I look at job loss as a medieval purgatory, a necessary evil we all must suffer before true redemption. But that perspective negates the greatest truth in Scripture: Christ loved us absolutely even in our fallen state. He's not walking around with a big stick to correct our form. He's providing glimpses through the earthly muck into a sweeter grace.
Instead of waiting for the other shoe to drop or feeling guilty, we need to turn the focus back on God. That means seeing blessing as evidence of God's goodness, pure and simple. Like the Psalm says, just "taste and see that the Lord is good." No strings attached.
We can point to good times in our life just as surely as we can point to the bad, testifying that we serve a good God. The good times didn't slip through as a fluke. They are reminders to praise, not to fear.
Experiencing blessing today should also remind us that there is a greater blessing to come. For the Christian, good things are like the reflection in a mirror - a one-dimensional representation of the real thing. Consider Romans 8:32: "He who did not spare his own son, but gave him up for us all, how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?" We've already received the greatest goodness in spite of our unworthiness. If it's all grace, no room remains for guilt or fear.
The real question isn't why God blesses us. The real question is what blessing says about God's character and our response to him. How do we react to a God who has given us the "inexpressible gift" (2 Corinthians 9:15) of his Son? The first reaction is directing praise upward. The second reaction should be directing blessing outward. We're not blessed so we can hoard like the rich man with all his barns. We're called to give our time and efforts in every circumstance - how much more when we experience tremendous blessing?
As Paul tells the well-to-do Corinthians that they were made rich "so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God." As the phrase goes, we're blessed to be a blessing, to show God's goodness to others.
Intersecting Faith & Life: Our response to blessing - whether we take it for granted, feel guilty for not having "earned" it, or use it as a means to praise a good God - reveals what we really believe about our Heavenly Father. How will you respond today?