The story of God’s people is a constant cycle that goes something like this:
- 1) Blessing and prosperity
- 2) Complacency and hardened hearts
- 3) Rebellion and the worship of idols
- 4) Destruction at the hands of another nation
- 5) The rise of a prophet or a leader
- 6) Freedom from the other nation
- 7) Restored blessing and prosperity
- And the cycle repeats
We have a way of rebelling against God when we are prosperous… when things go well.
I have heard people (usually Americans) say things like “It’s easy to be a Christian when you are blessed. It is much harder to keep your faith when everything goes wrong.” I get where that idea comes from. However, I feel like a true, fierce faith that isn’t based in immediate gratification flourishes during times of misery and famine. I think the entire narrative of the Old Testament is a pretty good indicator of that. When the enemies of Israel rise up against them, they all of the sudden remember their need for God.
So, I am in a time of famine. In this time of famine my faith has, honestly, exploded. I am spending so much more time in prayer and worship than I ever have. My heart is full of hope and joy. I am seeing evidence of God’s work everywhere around me. All the while I am constantly asking Him to provide me with a job and a place for my family to live. I don’t say this with any sense of arrogance or superiority. I have lived most of my life without this faith. It took God removing the things that I take comfort in (i.e. job security, my family) for me to turn to Him and trust that He will be provide.
But honestly, I’m kind of starting to fear the blessing that I believe is coming.
Doesn’t that sound weird? Don’t people want to be blessed by God?
When I consider the story of the Israelites, the story of history, and the story of my life I see the pattern that I mentioned up at the top of this post. I see people’s relationships with God falling to pieces when they receive his blessing. The relationships do not fall to pieces BECAUSE of His blessing. They fall to pieces because they get comfortable and used to the state of being blessed. They start to believe that God owes them this blessing… that they are somehow entitled to it.
To be completely honest with you, there is a small piece of me that is fearful of receiving a job and a house in Boston because I don’t want my affections to be stirred by material goods and comforts. I don’t want my career to become my identity. I don’t want my value of myself to correspond to the value of my bank account or the number of my possessions.
Now, don’t think for a second that I take this fear too seriously. I do, of course, long for the blessing of a job and home. When I get that job I will work as hard as I can and give that job the best of my energies. It just makes me wonder:
How do you worship God in a time of prosperity?
The short answer is through thankfulness and generosity. However, I am honestly fearful that I will not be as thankful and generous once I receive the blessing as I hope to be right now.
All I’m saying here is that there is a serious beauty in your time of famine. Enjoy a time of communion with God. Realize God’s place in your life. And when you do receive blessing, fight tooth and nail against the temptation to make the blessing more important than the One who gives every blessing.