Monday, June 22, 2015

Beware of Happiness as a Validator

How are things going for you today?

If you are happy, content, or feeling as though things are going well for you, is this optimism really enough to prove that you're in the center of God's will for your life?

Does the lack of deep stress or hardship in your life necessarily indicate that your present happiness is based on the principles God expects His people to embrace?

The reason I ask is that, by default, we often presume that our circumstances have a direct correlation to the quality of our spirituality.  In other words, when our circumstances are oppressive, don't we tend to doubt God's goodness, or that we're doing what He wants us to be doing, or that we're anywhere close to being in the center of His will for our life?

Isn't it in times of great upheaval and dismay that we most often question our faith, or doubt God's goodness, or second-guess His faithfulness?

To be sure, when we make bad decisions, or intentionally sin, the negative consequences we will invariably endure testify to our poor choices.  But is "living the good life" automatically an endorsement from God of our decisions?

Don't plenty of evil people enjoy the luxuries of our world?  And don't plenty of earnest saints face oppression, pain, and grief?

How often do we pause and evaluate our own actions and motivations when we see our lives are going well?  Why do we automatically presume that the good things we experience are coming directly from God because He's blessing our choices?  After all, good things come to some dreadfully horrible people who have no business presuming God is blessing their sinfulness.

And when bad things happen to us, don't we usually recoil in confusion, fear, and doubt?  Meanwhile, perhaps, in some of these bad experiences, God may be wanting to display His mercy and love to us in ways we'd never appreciate if life was floating along all perfect and according to plan.

Might the misery God sometimes allows His people to experience be for us something more valuable than the good things we easily perceive to be blessings?

Not that we should necessarily feel guilty when good things happen to us.  But the good times might not represent for us the validation of our choices and actions that we think they do.

God allows the sun to shine and the rain to fall on both saints and sinners.  It's His providence that sustains His people no matter the weather.

Woe to those who are at ease in Zion, and to those who feel secure on the mountain of Samaria, the notable men of the first of the nations, to whom the house of Israel comes.  Pass over to Calneh, and see, and from there go to Hamath the great; then go down to Gath of the Philistines.  Are you better than these kingdoms?  Or is their territory greater than your territory, O you who put far away the day of disaster and bring near the seat of violence?  Amos 6:1-3

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.  I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound.  In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me.  - Philippians 4:11-13

Who among you fears the Lord, and obeys the voice of his servant?  Let him who walks in darkness and has no light trust in the name of the Lord, and rely on his God.  Behold, all you who kindle a fire, who equip yourselves with burning torches!  Walk by the light of your fire, and by the torches that you have kindled!  This you have from my hand:  you shall lie down in torment.  - Isaiah 50:10-11