Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Prosperity Gospel of God's Will

God's will. The elusive goal of every Christian. What school to attend, what career to choose, whom to marry, where to live, what church to join, the list is never-ending.

We wait hopeful; expectant. Uncertain of specifics, but positive that it's going to be good. After all, how many times have we heard Jeremiah 29:11? "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Or what about Ephesians 3:20? God is able to do "above and beyond all that we ask or think."

We get caught up in this self-created image of fairness. If I follow God, He will bless me. God loves me, so He will bless me. Though His plans are good and perfect, they are not always what we want or expect.

What about all the other instances in the Bible where God's will wasn't so pretty? Job lost his children, his possessions, and was inflicted with sores, Isaiah was sawn in two, Jeremiah was stoned, Shadrach, Mesach and Abednego were thrown into a fiery furnace, Amos was tortured and killed, John the Baptist was beheaded, Mark was dragged to death behind horses, Luke was hung, John was boiled in oil, Peter was crucified, James was thrown from the roof of the temple, James was beheaded, Bartholomew was whipped to death, Thomas was speared, Jude was killed with arrows, Matthias and Barnabas were stoned, and Paul was tortured and beheaded. All these believers followed God's will for their lives. He could have spared them, but He chose not to.

These are stories where people willingly followed God, often knowing His plan would most likely end in death. In the mouths of these believers we find two of the most powerful, faith-filled statements in the bible:

Job sat in misery, bereaved of his family and his health and declared, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in Him..." (13:15a).

In Daniel 3:17-18 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego recognized God's ability to save them from death, but they also realized He might not choose to use it: "If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty's hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."

We are not promised a steady job, a blissful marriage, or a perfect church, but one thing is certain. For better or for worse, the Lord will fulfill his purpose for us if we follow Him in faith.