I was contemplating the subject of the favour
of the Lord yesterday morning, meditating on the fact that the primary
way to earn that favour is to be "blameless" in His site ("… the LORD
bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose
walk is blameless." Ps 84:11 NIV).
I realized as I read this verse that the only requirement for God's favour was to accept Jesus' gift of righteousness, and when we do, God sees us as "blameless". This means, then, that everyone who has accepted Jesus as their personal Lord and Saviour ALREADY has God's favour!
But if this is true, then why does it seem to so many of us that God has withheld His favour? I mean, when we look at our circumstances, at the unanswered prayers, at the fact that so many are still in hopeless situations, how can it be said that we already have God's favour?
I hadn't resolved this dilemma when I decided to spend the day gardening.
Now I know that gardening is an activity enjoyed by many, but I'm not of the same opinion. I don't like the feel of dirt on my hands, I hate weeds, especially the ones with needles and thorns, and the kind of weeds that voraciously take over any attempt I have made at a flower bed are all the kind that break off at the soil level, leaving a beautiful, healthy root still firmly embedded amongst my flowers. In addition, I burn very easily, and after being in the hot sun for just a little while, I usually end up with a massive head ache. Oh, and let's not forget the fact that I am ++++ allergic to grass, and many of nature's other finest greenery! But perhaps the reason I hate gardening as much as I do is the sense of futility. I know good and well that no matter how hard I work, those weeds will return!
But as I stood at the window looking out over our yard yesterday, I realized that the weeds weren't pulling themselves, and the 20 sacks of cedar mulch we had purchased were not doing any good sitting in the garage. It occurred to me that if I wanted the work to get done, I would have to do it myself.
And that's what I set out to do. Naturally, I got dirt under my nails, to say nothing about dirt smudges over my entire body. My arms broke out in hives from the weeds, my eyes itched and my nose ran, my muscles screamed out in pain, and I got sunburned. All of my "prophecies" came to pass.
I couldn't help thinking about the subject of God's favour through this experience. Did He withhold His favour from me by not sending me someone to do my gardening? I mean, today, in the aftermath, my eyes are still itching, my skin is still burned, and every muscle in my body is screaming out in pain from my overexertion. So just where is God's favour in all of this?
In the end however, I know that my muscles will eventually stop aching, and will be stronger as a result of my exercise. And just think of all that beautiful Vitamin D I soaked up!
And what of my garden? It has never looked so good!
So did God really withhold His favour?
No. He didn't.
The problem lies in the fact that I have my own little definition of what is God's favour! In my mind, God would bestow favour by sending someone to do my gardening for me! And when it didn't happen, I figured God had withheld His favour!
But God knows that what I really need is strong muscles and a storehouse full of Vitamin D! From His prospective, He had me do my own gardening so that I could attain what I really needed!
Could it be that when we feel that God has withheld His favour, it is simply because we are trying to define for ourselves what will make us ultimately happy? Could it be that God, in His love and wisdom, knows what we REALLY need to be happy, and allows us to go through hard times to develop that?
Can we trust God enough to know that whatever it is we're going through, in the end, we will be stronger for it? Can we trust Him enough to know that while we're going through those valleys, God is always there, holding us up, crying with us, supporting us, giving us strength?
I think I'll look at gardening with a little different light next time.
But wait a minute: God didn't want all those weeds to be there in the first place (See Gen 3:17-19). And what about my sunburn? In the end, it puts me at risk for developing skin cancer! Surely these things couldn't have been part of God's favour! Please join us next Saturday, for GARDENING, Part 2.
In His love,
Lyn Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two teens, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, and the Scriptural Nuggets website, www.scripturalnuggets.org, with Answers2Prayer ministries, www.answers2prayer.org.