I’ll never forget feeling completely lost and let down when I had done all that I was told that I was supposed to do…and still things in my life weren’t perfect. I know that sounds ridiculous, but bear with me. Over and over again, I had been lead to believe that if would just “give my life to God,” or, “trust Christ,” then all of my problems would go away. All of a sudden, I would never worry again…never have heartache again…never have financial struggles again. Overall, my life would be “blessed” and as a testimony to how real God is and how much He blesses those that follow Him, I would be rich, comfortable, and healthy. However, I soon found out that this was a big, fat lie…
Among the “lies Christians tell,” this one seems to be the most anthropocentric (man-centered). It is used by some very deviously and by others very ignorantly…but anyone that believes it will either find themselves living in a false reality or in a broken-hearted mess with doubts swirling all around.
Lie #4: “God wants you to be happy.”
Prosperity preachers use this one all the time. They are probably some of the most obvious offenders. Over and over again, some of them claim that if you will give them money, then you will receive your blessing…or if you will simply “receive” your blessing, it is yours for the taking. I’ve actually heard some say outright that it has never been God’s will for you to be in any kind of discomfort, whether it be health, wealth, or relational. One very wealthy and famous preacher has said that Jesus was rich. He even said that the reason the specific gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh was that God was trying to give Jesus some semblance of the luxury He left in heaven when He came to earth…that money was trying to find Him (here’s a link to an article about this==>CLICK ME). This is just one example of many and they all operate from the same premise: God wants us to be happy and comfortable.
There is a more subtle form of this lie…I think it is more dangerous. I fell prey to it and unintentionally used it myself. This form is not focused on the specifics of health and wealth, but instead just saying that if you’ll give your heart to Christ, you’re life will just work out. I’ve ended my sermons before with things like, “Perhaps you are struggling in your life…things just aren’t working out and you can’t catch a break. Perhaps it’s time you listened to God because it’s likely that all of these things are happening to get your attention.” The implication of this is that if someone does listen to God and does give their heart and will over to Him as much as they can, then all of the circumstances with which they are struggling will work out or go away. This form of the lie is usually well-intentioned. But it is also reflective of an oversimplification of life, as well as a misunderstood view of God’s working in and through the circumstances of our lives.
Here’s the reality: there’s nowhere in the Bible, taken in context, that tells us that God wants these things for us. There’s nothing Scriptural to support the idea that if we will simply follow the Lord then our lives will just straighten out and nothing else difficult can come our way. There is definitely no place that says our blessings are there if we simply name them and claim them. Throughout Scripture, there is one central truth that is hard not to see. It is the truth that God is always wanting to grow us and just as James tells us, suffering and/or trials bring about growth. This does not mean that God makes things tough on us in order to strengthen us. Honestly, He doesn’t have to do that. Life is enough. Life happens. We live in a very imperfect existence and if your life is not being affected by some type of difficulty, just wait a bit…something hellacious is coming. This notion of everything that occurs being the result of either God doing it or our lack of claiming our blessing is just wrong. God knows how life is going to happen all around us every day. And He knows how to grow each of us using all of our circumstances. And He cares about our personal hell. The reality is that in all of our trials, no matter what they are, He can and will teach us something about Himself, about us, and about our relationship with Him. Gary Thomas, in his book, Sacred Marriage, expresses a strong and liberating truth. He says that God’s design for marriage is to make us holy more than it is to make us happy. I would say that this truth applies to all of life. Whether married or not, God’s design for all of the events in our lives is much more about holiness than it is about happiness.
This is a very unpopular view. We want comfort. I believe that the culture of the U.S. is most affected by this desire…probably more than any other place in the world. We seem to believe that we are entitled to all kinds of luxuries. When we are unhappy or hurting, we often think that either God is not helping us out or that we have done something wrong and He is getting even with us. If He is getting even with us, then the cross of Christ was not sufficient to pay for our sins…but we know that Scripture says otherwise. If we feel like He’s not helping us out…well, perhaps we are not seeing the help He is giving us. Instead we are focusing only on the help we want…not the help we need.
To finish this up, let me say this: God is also not trying to make us miserable. The point is that happiness or misery are choices that we make. Those reactions are up to us. He isn’t manipulating us for those outcomes. He is working in our lives for the bigger picture…and we should be happy about that. Jesus told His followers they would be persecuted and suffer a lot of hardships (Matt. 24:9). Why would we think that our lives would be so drastically different? But we can choose how we will face those things. We can face them with negativity, or we can do so with joy in our hearts and not some false veneer of happiness.
God’s blessings of growth in us are worth a lot more than fleeting, momentary happiness…worth a lot more than all the gold in the world. They are of eternal value.
Up next: “Forgive and forget.”
Image taken from: http://thesweetestnest.blogspot.com/2013/09/mythbusters-god-doesnt-want-you-to-be.html