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Favor: Expectations vs. Reality

Psalm 5:2 is one of my favorite verses in the whole Bible. It’s short and simple yet it’s implications are profound, timeless and far reaching:

Surely, LORD, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.

I don’t know about you but right now, I know that many who profess to love Jesus might be questioning how favored they are. Some days aren’t feeling very ‘favorable’ compared to others lately. However, I was speaking with a client this past week and as he talked to me, through tears, about the devastation his business was experiencing, my heart went out to him as I listened to the logic flow of his thoughts.

“I’ve tithed” he said, but things were still failing. “I’ve believed” he said, but things still weren’t working out. To paraphrase a summary of the condemnation trying to take root in his thinking, “I’ve done everything I think I’m supposed to do as a Christian and yet my world is crashing down and it doesn’t make any sense, nor does it seem fair” (my words, not his).

I’ve been thinking about this for the past few days and I see a connection to 2 verses in Scripture that can help us. The verse above about ‘favor’, and Matthew 5:45:

He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the goodsending rain on the just and the unjust alike.

With those verses in mind, let’s look at a couple of things that stand out:

1. If you’ve been let go, laid off or your business is failing, that doesn’t mean you’re any less favored or that God is somehow punishing you for not doing enough or being good enough.That line of thinking is anti-Scriptural and just plain wrong. God made it clear that no judgment happens now, and even if you had done something terrible that warranted judgment, Jesus said that God makes the sun rise on good people and ‘bad’ people just the same. So no differences in the natural cycle no matter what.We also know that he loves his children too much to do anything but good for them because Jesus again told us that when comparing earthly fathers to our Father in Heaven, there’s simply no comparison. If we can do good things for our kids, his version of ‘good’ is infinitely better (think about the sermon on the mount; What kind of a father would give his child a stone if he asked for bread? How much more then will your Father in Heaven give good gifts?).

2. If you’ve been doing everything ‘right’, giving, loving on others and going to Church just to name a few things, that also doesn’t change the realities of life. He longs to love us and surrounds us with favor because of that love, not because of the things we did. We don’t earn it, we can’t demand it, he simply loves us because he wants to so whether you did everything right or not, the facts don’t change in the slightest. He wants the best for you, but by his definition, not yours.

Where does that leave us when our world is crashing down around us? Thankfully, it leaves us in exactly the same place we’ve been all along, and the best place we could possibly be… In his grip.

His blessings don’t happen on our time frame, nor within our definitions. What we see as a blessing may not even be one. What we don’t see as a blessing, may actually be one.

His favor is the same, but again God plays the long game. He works in years and decades while we work in seconds and minutes, (hours and days at the most). It’s an incredibly tough dance to perform, but Noah built the ark for decades, trusting he wasn’t a crazy person. Abraham waited over a decade for the child an angel told him he’d have, face to face in a conversation like you or I might have. If those guys had to wait a while, why do we think things have changed now just because our timelines are shorter?

Ultimately, it means that whatever you think is happening right now, you’re still surrounded with his favor like a shield. You’re still going to see the sun rise tomorrow just like you did today and you’re still going to be rained on sometimes, just like everyone else.

Don’t let the situations around you change or shape your thoughts when His Word says something to the contrary. You’re a child of his. He knows the mess we’re all in right now and he’s been around long enough to know how to handle it. He knows what you need before you even ask, so as Jesus said in the same sermon, ‘Seek his kingdom first’, and trust that he’ll take care of the rest.

As difficult as today might seem, and if you lose everything materially around you as a result of the craziness, please make sure you don’t also lose the one thing that truly matters above it all, you’re relationship and love for a God who didn’t promise that everything would be awesome, no matter what the Lego movie wants us to sing.

He didn’t cause this, he isn’t punishing us through this and he sure isn’t surprised by this. Dig in, praise louder, sit back and watch what he’s going to do. I don’t know what tomorrow looks like, but from his words, I know whatever it may be he’s already there waiting for you and I.