- Posted by Edith Ohaja
- On October 29, 2017
- 66 Comments
For many believers, to be “blessed” means to receive relief from their problems and acquire the pleasures and comforts of life. In this regard, Christians have different conceptions of God. To some, He is a strict and holy God who must be revered and never troubled for temporal matters. To others, He is a sort of Saint Nicholas or if you like, a doting grandfather who can never say “No” to them. Both perceptions have serious demerits as we shall soon see.
But first, a little story that inspired this post. I was conversing with a young friend who was having a rough time financially. I offered the help I could and told Him that God would do something about His situation. His response was, “He has to.” The way He said and elaborated it did not imply, “God must see how critical my situation is. It can’t get worse than this. He loves me and would want to do something soon.” Rather, it sounded like, “God is obliged to help me. He has no option than to do something now.”We should neither see God as ultra-hard or as a mindless Santa Claus. Click To Tweet
Later, I began to ponder over this and ask myself if this attitude was supported by Scripture. Does God promise us in His word that He is compelled to move in our situation? Does He vow to end our trials when we feel we can’t take them any more? In other words, does God have to “bless” us? Or does He have any choice in the matter?
A close reading of Scripture would show that such an attitude is actually erroneous. Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to misrepresent God or undermine our faith. But I don’t want us to set ourselves up for disillusionment from time to time. An explanation is imperative and I present it below. I want you to consider it very carefully.
3 Wrong Bases for “GOD MUST BLESS ME AND HE MUST DO IT NOW” Attitude
This attitude seems to derive from:
- a misconception of the person of God
- a misapplication of scriptural promises and
- a misunderstanding of how God demonstrates His love for us.
1. Let us start with the person of God: Part of what it means to be God is that He is sovereign. He does not have to do anything. He cannot be compelled. He is self-existing and does what pleases Him.
Except we understand this, we may develop a grudge when in spite of our insistence and meeting certain conditions which we feel will certainly bind God to do what we ask, He remains silent or seemingly inactive. I have heard believers recount how they served God tirelessly and sowed seeds for certain expected blessings. The truth is that some come to testify later while many others become discouraged because things didn’t turn out as they hoped.
“Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.” – Psalm 115:3
“Whatever the LORD pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps.” – Psalm 135:6
(Related: When God Says “No”)
In one of his epic conversations with Moses, God said this about Himself:
“… I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.” – Exodus 33:19
We should not presume to dictate to God. We ought to bow to His sovereignty. Sometimes, God does as we wish if we insist long enough but this is usually an invitation to heartache and misery further down the road. Remember the Israelites’ demand for kings and how these kings became so oppressive and led them into idolatry that eventually resulted in exile. It didn’t even take many generations for this to happen. It started right with Solomon, the son of David. (I Samuel 8:6-21, 1 Kings 11:1-8).We should not presume to dictate to God. We ought to bow to His sovereignty. Click To Tweet
2. But, you ask, how about all the glorious promises in the Bible? Surely, God must fulfil them when I claim them. After all, the Bible says He has magnified His word above His name (Psalm 138:2 – KJV). Modern translations render that verse differently. For instance, “… you have exalted above all things your name and your word” and “… you have shown that your name and your commands are supreme.” (ESV and GNT)Can anything stop God from fulfilling His promises in the Bible when we claim them? Click To Tweet
However it is rendered, the import is clear: God honours His word. He does not trifle with it or neglect it. And the Bible does state as follows:
“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.” – 1 John 5:14
Okay, with everything spelt out like this, what could possibly stop God from doing what I ask for when it’s taken straight from the pages of the Bible? His promises in the Bible are His will, aren’t they?Are all of God's promises in the Bible His will for me or can there be exceptions? Click To Tweet
They are in a general sense but may not always be so in each specific case. Take, for instance, the issue of healing. The Bible tells us that by the stripes of Jesus we have been healed (I Peter 2:24). Apostle Paul knew it. He probably preached it and performed outstanding miracles in that respect. But he had an affliction which, rather than remove, God gave him the grace to endure for a reason that our human nature would find hard to appreciate.
“So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:7-9.
Paul felt he couldn’t take it anymore but the truth is, we don’t know the extent of our endurance (actually God’s grace upon us) or what the consequences of the options we are asking for are. Only God does.
Take something else, like procreation. It was the first command given to human beings in the Bible.
“And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth ….” – Genesis 1:28
Does that mean everyone must reproduce? God’s will for certain persons, as shown in the Bible, does not include biological parenthood. We know this was the case with the Lord Jesus and the Prophet Jeremiah.
“The word of the LORD came to me: ‘You shall not take a wife, nor shall you have sons or daughters ….'” – Jeremiah 16:1-2
So picking Bible verses as we wish and being adamant that God must fulfil them in our lives can open us up to serious disappointment sometimes. A more productive way to pray is to ask God to reveal to us by His Spirit what His will is for our lives and to pray accordingly. This can be done by praying in the Spirit or praying and remaining calm in our hearts to hear what God has to say.
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” – Romans 8:26-27 (emphasis mine)
Never feel that hearing from God is for some exclusive class of believers. God can simply stir a scripture in your heart that gives you the idea of what He wants to do. You will know that you have been inspired to hold on to that scripture.
3. Now, all this might be sounding gloomy to some. Someone may therefore ask, “If we can’t get what we want through Him, what’s the point of serving God?” You see, that’s the problem. God is the Creator and Ruler of the Universe. By that fact alone, He deserves to be worshipped, even if He doesn’t do the things on our wish lists.
This brings us to the third wrong notion: the notion that if God loves us, He would show it by taking away all our troubles. One man of God rightly described this as the babalawo mentality that has invaded Christianity. Babalawo is the Yoruba word for a native medicine man, the kind that people consult to make petitions in the hopes that once they have made the required sacrifice, say of a fowl or a ram, they will have their requests granted. (Of course, things don’t always work as the medicine men boast, but many seek their aid.)The notion that if God loves us, He must take away all our troubles, is wrong. Click To Tweet
(Related: How to be Faithful while Flourishing)
God is so much bigger than someone to get money, clothes, food, spouses or whatever else we need from. He is our righteous Father and He longs for us to reflect His nature more and more. To be clear, God loves us beyond anything we can imagine and He does want the best for us. This is unlike the babalawo who will give a woman a love potion for her husband that may end up killing him or driving her mad when it boomerangs.
“May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” – Ephesians 3:19 (NLT)
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV)
But the fact is that God’s way of viewing things is often far different from ours, with the result that what He considers good for us may be something we loathe or something that is not pleasant or comfortable. We need to understand that God loves us as much in the hard times as in the good times and often uses the hard times to refine and help us mature in faith.
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” – James 1:2-4
If God’s love is only demonstrated through cosy experiences, then He must have hated the prophets and martyrs whom He watched while they were killed for their faith.
(Related: 10 Quotes about God’s Love)
God loves us very much and will take care of us but everything must be on His own terms. Otherwise, we could get fleeting goodies and thrills that may not facilitate our walk with God. God is a doting father but you won’t manipulate or control Him. He is the Sovereign Lord.
Know God personally. Let His word fill your heart. Pray for your needs but don’t do it with gritted teeth, wearing yourself out. Rather, do it in the confidence that God will work things out, maybe not always as you wished, but always for your good. Do not give God ultimatums or struggle with Him. Instead, rest in His will as the Lord Jesus and the apostles did.
I love you with the love of God and I want you to know that it is well with you in Jesus’ name.
The scriptures in this post are from the English Standard Version of the Holy Bible except where otherwise stated.)
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