Thursday, September 28, 2006

Lucky or Blessed?

I debated on which topic to post about today - the light-hearted funny one or the serious deep thinking one. The serious deep thinking one won out, probably because it is a drizzly, cold afternoon, an atmosphere that lends itself more to a low-key deep thinking mindset.

I've thought on and off about this topic for the last few months, and I have even started a post about it a time or to, but I could never really pull my thoughts together well enough to be able to express myself in this mode. I'm still not sure I am there, but after listening to Pastor DeNeff's sermon on Sunday, my thoughts are more clarified, and I'm going to give it a shot.

I've made it a point in my adult life to use the word blessed instead of lucky when it comes to the good fortune that I have had. For example, I am blessed with a wonderful husband and two children. I am blessed to have a roof over my head and plenty of food to eat. I am blessed to have a job that I enjoy, and so forth. To say, "I sure am lucky to have found Jason" seems so trite, and it completely puts God out of the equation - the responsibility falls to fate. And of course where does every good and perfect gift come from - from our Father up above, at least that's what the Bible says. So logic to Bible believers would say blessings are gifts from God. However, I have a few thoughts about this. First, if blessings are from God, where are curses from? Second, if I am a Christian, yet I am not experiencing blessings, am I not right with God? Third, why do "non-Christians" on the surface appear to have been blessed? Who blessed them? Fourth, why do Christians experience tragedies? Can tragedies also be from God? Or as a society, do we attribute the blessings to God and the tragedies to the fall of man?

Pastor DeNeff preached a really thought provoking sermon on Sunday, and one of the points we talked about in Sunday School was that God is not on our side. Someone in our class used the example of the angel talking to Joshua, and when Joshua asked the angel are you for us or against us, the angel answered "neither." Wouldn't you think that God would be on Joshua's side? The point our Sunday School member was making is that we are to be on God's side. So then I think, if we are to be on God's side, we should want what God wants. Well, if I should want what God wants, then how does that affect my prayer life? I think back to Judges when the people were asking for a king, and God did not want them to have a king, but they kept asking, so He gave them one. That wasn't the best choice for those people. How do I know what I am asking for is in my best interest? So then do I always only pray for God's will? That would make for a short prayer each night.

The thoughts above are a little jumbled for my liking, but I will continue to press on. While these last two paragraphs seem to talk on two different subjects, I think they are interrelated. Let's say I really want IT. So I pray for IT. I pray and pray and pray. Scenario one - I get IT. Did God bless me? Did God really want me to have IT, or am I like the people in Judges? Is God trying to further his kingdom by answering my prayer? Scenario two - I don't get IT. Is God cursing me? Is that God's will, so he denies me? Is God teaching me a lesson in patience or faith? How about windfalls? Things that I don't pray for, but fortune smiles upon me. Was that God blessing me, or did I just get lucky?

How about when non-Christians are blessed/lucky? Who is responsible for that?

Though I have so many questions on these ideas, these are my absolutes:
1.) The Bible is true
2.) Prayer can change things - if it is God's will
3.) God does have a perfect plan for my life

Here's a real simple scenario that loosely shows what I mean - the couple of minutes we didn't know where Elizabeth was last weekend, I was praying as I was running around the campgrounds. "Dear Lord, please help us find Elizabeth. Please keep her safe wherever she is" and other frantic prayers you pray in crisis. Two minutes later she is found. "Thank you Lord, thank you for protecting her." Then I think, did God cause me to find her? Did I thank him out of habit of thanking him for an anwered prayer, or did I truly believe he was the reason she was found? Had I not found her, had something tragic happened, am I as equally blessed, or was I cursed? Or does fate/luck play a lot bigger role in life than Christians give credit? Pastor DeNeff often uses the word "providence," but I have a hard time distinguishing between providence and luck, because providence is usually applied to positive things, and bad things must just be bad luck.

Then I think of the verse that says (loose Wuertley translation) families who follow God will be blessed through the generations or for a thousand years or something like that. I think of my grandparents - very godly, Christian people, devout prayer life, etc. They had two sons. One son, my father, has two children, and our immediate families have experienced relatively few hardships. The other son, my uncle, had a son die in a car crash at age 16, and the repercussions from that tragedy greatly affected that immediate family in a negative way. Was my father blessed and not my uncle? They were raised in the same household with the same heritage.

I know I stated in my very first post that I would not be speaking on spiritual matters, and my intent is not to do so, but when it is so much a part of your life, it just seeps through at times. I will end on some interesting info I found out about my 3 year old today when I came home from lunch. She was talking (to noone) and laughing, and I said, "Anna, are you being silly?" She said, "No, I'm talking to my friend." I said, "What's your friend's name." She answered, "George." This imaginary friend was new to me, but in the next few minutes, I found out lots about him by observing. #1 - Anna is faster at running than George - she won all of the races #2 - George lets Anna boss him around #3 George is not her guardian angel, because as they were playing in the window sill, she bumped the curtain, and the rod crashed into her head, and #4 George doesn't know how to start the computer games, so I had to go upstairs and help instead.


Blogger Keetha said...

You voiced a lot of hard questions that I think many of us have wondered about on some level - - - maybe even a subconscious one. I don't have any answers.

September 28, 2006 5:19 PM  
Blogger Jim and Jaena said...

I am laughing really hard right now...out loud (though not rolling on the floor yet). I guess after such a deep post, the bottom paragraph caught me a bit off guard, especially the part about George not being Anna's guardian angel since she stil got hurt - hilarious!

Back to (part of) the topic of the post...I don't know much, but I do know that I have had many instances where I think (I feel like I should have typed "know" instead of "think") that God has specifically answered my prayers. There have been too many times when I have panicked over lost keys or checkbook (or child) and have prayed for God to please help me find them. After the prayed, I will look in a place that I had not thought of and there they will be. I think that is God.

And I guess if God cares about things like keys and my checkbook - like the sparrow - how much more does He care about and want to bless us in more significant matters. We need a small group night devoted to this topic. Maybe next week since tonight was canceled...

September 28, 2006 8:55 PM  
Blogger Deb said...

Keetha, if you don't have any answers, it's hopeless for me - noone is going to have any answers. Jaena, I had to add that last part because the seriousness of the post was getting to me - I had to end on a lighter note. And I don't mean to imply with my comment to Keetha that your answer wasn't good :).

September 28, 2006 9:12 PM  
Blogger Jim and Jaena said...

OK, I have more to say...throughout the Bible, ther are countless stories of God's sovereignty and His specific hand on individual lives. I just read about Paul and about the diverse response he had when he preached in various towns. Sometimes people believed and were baptized (a blessing?), sometimes he was stoned, beaten, or put in jail (a curse or lack of "luck"?) Once an entire family belived and was baptized AFTER he was beaten and put in jail.

So my thought is that God - in his sovereignty - is the only one who can see the entire picture. Some things we may pray for or even see as blessings here on earth may, in fact, not be when viewed from an eternal persective. And some things we might consider negative or a curse can be used by God for his ultimate purpose, even our good. I could go on, but I may have to write my own post on this topic so I don't use up too much comment space here.

September 28, 2006 9:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's something to think about: Job 2:9-10.

September 29, 2006 12:19 PM  
Blogger Keetha said...

Maybe we aren't supposed to get the answers all the time. Maybe God wants to know if we will TRUST Him WITHOUT always understanding.

I'm a teacher - - - in case you didn't know it, that is a synonym for CONTROL FREAK. Yet repeatedly God reminds me that I am not the one in control - - - He is.

Greg has been doing the Bible in a Year 'thing' again, and this time the Old Testament picture of God really hit him in negative ways. I will admit it is very difficult to relate that picture of God to the New Testament image of "God is Love."

That's what I meant about not having any answers - - - I don't have an answer for how those two "sides" of God fit together.

BUT - - I CHOOSE with Job, and Habakkuk to say, "Yet Will I Trust Him"

September 29, 2006 8:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, Deb, you sound so much like me! I hope you don't mind me jumping in here. Up until this last year, I never really got why we even prayed if it was God's will anyway. If it's God's will...then do I pray to change His mind??? I never got it. I've had many tough circumstances in my 30 years. I always felt like God's stepchild instead of His child. Was it his will my mother was killed? Was it his will my body got very sick? Why were other peole just out apparently enjoying life while i was suffering? Was it my punishment? Was He trying to teach me something? Was God just in a crapshoot with the devil seeing who would win out in the end with me? No wonder I wasn't too keen on God...I thought He was the reason for all the bad stuff.
In June of this year I read a book and started working with a counseling ministry that completely changed my life. God has taught me He teaches us through his word and not harsh circumstances. Here's some of what I've learned...ok...deep's really very simple. God is good. Everything good comes from Him. The bad stuff...that comes from the devil, or our own wills when we chose tolisten to the enemy (God won't violate our free wills). The devil wants us to be feel fearful, rejected, abandoned.

When I think of Jesus's ministry here on earh, I think of Him coming to save, teach, love, and heal us in every way. To me, that is who God is. He didn't die that terrible death so I could live in oppression, sickness, fear, rejection, etc. He gave us the armor to stand against the war that is not between flesh and blood, but of principalities of darkness.

Sin of some sort opens the door for the devil to attack us, like with Job and Paul. That's why Christian people get sick, tragedies happen, etc. Death didn't enter the pix until there was sin in the Garden of Eden. Job was just like us...he dealt with fear, bitterness, self-hatred, and on and on. The devil was allowed to attack him. In the end Job said he was wrong and he repented. Then came the blessings. I think pride opened the door for Paul's thorn. He wouldn't have had the thorn if he would have dealt with pride. But, neither Job or Paul are our standard...Christ is!!!

God is a just God, and sin is punished. In the new convent Christ came to take our punishment and to give us life. So that blows the theory of bad things being our punishment from God in my mind.

OK...i'm a bit embarressed by the length of my response. Sorry, Deb. I just get so excited sharing what I've experienced. Thank goodness I got my blog up and running!=)

I hope this helps you in some way, Deb!

September 30, 2006 1:11 AM  
Blogger Kristin said...


I found your blog through a link on Bekah's, and after reading this post wanted to offer up an idea.

The Bible says that the rain falls on the just and the unjust, so I assume (which could be dangerous) that blessings are the same.

I believe that God giving blessings to people we may not think worthy is part of His way of getting their attention, even if the recipient isn't aware of the Giver.

Perhaps if we take the time to rejoice with those who are also blessed (regardless of their personal faith), then we too can be a blessing to someone and even learn more about the character of God in the process.

Thanks for such a thought provoking post...and I'm so sorry that George appears to be inept LOL

October 24, 2006 1:32 PM  

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