I have observed when people pray for good things to happen, almost all pray for their subjective versions of “good.”
I get it. We often associate God’s blessing with our personal feelings of pleasure.
I want to propose a question to wrestle with.
Is it possible for God to bless you with something difficult or even painful?
I am not implying that God is the author of evil. I am proposing that God can purposely use hard things.
Let me offer a few examples.
I heard the story of a man planning to have an affair. The night he was going to meet up with the other woman, the suspecting wife prayed God would save their marriage. The potential cheater was hit that night with an illness and unable to meet the other woman. It ended up humbling his heart and eventually their marriage was restored. Was the illness a blessing or a curse? He was embarrassed and physically miserable…
A man came into my office who had abandoned his wife and child. He was battling with depression. He wanted me to pray that God would take the depression away so he could get on with life. Like many, he was angry with God for allowing this pain. I proposed that it might be a gift of a second chance for humility. Could this be a divine wake up call that was forcing personal reflection? He was physically miserable…
I knew a man who was diagnosed with liver cancer. He was a strong antagonist toward the Gospel of Jesus. Slowly, painfully dying he finally asked for a pastor to come talk with him about the afterlife. If there is eternity this very brief painful season of life that restored relationships, caused introspective reflection, and forced very real metaphysical contemplation could be the most important season of his life. What if he would have died in an instant from a heart attack? Was the slow, drawn out death a blessing or a curse? He was physically miserable…
I know countless people who have been humbled before God in times of financial struggle. Blessing or curse?
If you truly believe death is the end of everything then restraining temporal sensual pleasures like sex, drugs, or social influence makes no sense. As a Christian however, the ultimate win in this life is you right before God. This life is preparation for the next. It is not primarily living to be 100 years old or to be wealthy beyond measure.
I want to propose the things that make your heart right before God are the best OBJECTIVE blessings.
If our focus is preparation for eternity then the draw of temporal pleasures will melt away in the wake of an eternal perspective. C.S. Lewis says it like this:
“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”
I believe we are being shaped and prepared for something far beyond this temporal world.
The prophet Jonah is a great story of someone who believes in God and is experiencing God ordained hardships. His heart is being shaped and it doesn’t feel good. Check out the video below for more!