Reflections on things that matter.
For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been struggling with my idea of what God’s “favor” is. After years of hearing about it but never being able to perceive it, I have often felt like it was some huge joke. I would hear stories of other people’s experiences. “God came through for me here.” “God really gave me favor doing this.” Jobs, scholarships, financial breakthroughs, random vacations, you name it, I’ve heard stories about it. And it seemed to be happening all around me, but never to me. I felt like God’s red-headed stepchild because while one friend of mine is going to school with a full ride and another is on his second or third trip around the world, I am struggling to make it. So it’s easy to see how I ended up angry at God. I couldn’t see any of this favor in my life, and in fact, all I seemed to encounter was hardship.
I’ve struggled to stay positive and be grateful for what I have, but sometimes it all just slaps you in the face and you can’t help but cry out. “God, why don’t you live me like you love them?! Where’s my breakthrough? Where’s my life more abundantly?”
I read a blog post the other day called “What to Do When Your Mad at God.” While I was just waiting for the article to be full of those oh so frustratingly trite Christianisms that make you want to smash stain glass windows, I stumbled across a few words that I had heard before, but that I hadn’t heard clearly. “Trust that God has a bigger reason.” Now, in my 3-year-old temper tantrum way, I tried to balk against this wisdom. After what feels like an eternity of annoyance and anguish, you don’t want to hear that there’s a point to it; you just want it to stop. But if there’s a bigger purpose, which my Bible tells me is the case, then I can’t stay mad. There is no injustice, only inconvenience (I say this now while I am calm and rational, but God help me when the pain starts up again).
It’s funny, but before I’d read that blog post, I’d listened to a sermon by Pastor Stephen Furtick of Elevation Church entitled “The Struggle is the Same.” The bulk of the message seemed to be about how we all deal with the same struggles, but at the conclusion, the pastor ended by saying that the biggest struggle is this: submitting to God. That is where I live. My struggle, my frustration, my anger with God and my environment, is a struggle submitting to the things God wants to do that I don’t like or understand (mainly that I don’t understand).
What does all this have to do with favor? Well, emotionally, it has everything to do with the favor I accused God of withholding from me. Before, I said I felt like God was not giving me favor, but hardship, but that is only my perception. I perceive no favor because I am comparing my experience to the experiences of others instead of trusting that God has a bigger reason for what is not happening. I’m so fixated on this that I can’t see the favor God has been pumping me full of all along. The Micro-favor, that if I would allow myself to be grateful, I would enjoy much more. One such instance of micro-favor is the fact that almost every time I go into a coffee shop, someone blesses me with my beverage. And I didn’t even realize how amazing that is because I have been too busy focusing on the places God isn’t touching just now.
God, thank you for my tea today.