When the Going Gets Good…
When you look back through history, particularly in America, you tend to see a correlation between faith and tragedy. Almost every time there is a major catastrophe, people come running to God. It happened with Katrina. It happened on 9/11/01. It’s a recurring theme that we continue to see. When difficulties arise, we look to God for help, for deliverance, for strength and peace.
While there is certainly nothing wrong with looking to God in hard times (in fact, we’re encouraged to do just that) what I want to address is, how is our faith in the good times? It’s kind of a strange thing, how people are with these types of things.
I remember someone talking once about the interesting way sports fans talk about wins and losses of their favorite (or home) team. It was interesting to note that when our favorite team wins a game, people have a tendency to say things like “We won!” or “We’re headed for the playoffs!” Yet, when the team loses, suddenly it’s “They didn’t make it” or “They fell apart toward the end.”
Have you noticed that Christians often do the same sort of thing? When tragedy strikes and life is difficult, suddenly we need God’s help. We say things like “Please God, give me strength” and “Lord, please help me get through this.” We often will even give Him credit when we get to the end of these trials. We might declare, “I could not have gotten through that time in my life without everyone’s prayers and leaning on God for His strength and peace.”
After the storm is over and we’ve thanked God (hopefully) for helping us get through it, though, things tend to gradually move into “me” mode. Life is calm. Our house payment is made. The electricity is still on. The kids are doing well in school. We just got a raise and/or a promotion. We’re getting along great with our spouse and our in-laws. And all the while, God starts to fade into the background.
Why is it that when things are bad, we need His help. Then when He helps us, we assume we did it on our own? Why do we put God back on the shelf once things have settled down a bit and things are going well? Do we really think that He is just a useful tool, handy to have around in a crisis like the emergency flashlight you keep in the laundry room for when the power is out? Is that what some of us have reduced God to?
It’s so hard to remember Him and recognize His blessings when things are going well. It’s easy to take the credit for ourselves and convince ourselves and others that we have succeeded under our own power. But these are the times, perhaps even more than during the storms, that we need to acknowledge, respect, appreciate and give thanks to God for giving us a time of peace and prosperity.
Perhaps one reason this is so hard to do is because God tends to work through us. Maybe things would be different if we saw the clouds stirred up and fire coming from the heavens or a magnificent, white light when something good happened to us. Or maybe if we heard a loud, booming voice from the sky verbalizing the blessing we are about to receive just before it happened. Maybe then we’d recognize God’s involvment.
But God doesn’t work that way, for the most part. A couple times in Bible, God did do some amazing things with some of these types of things. By and large, though, God tends to work through us. If he wants to make sure that the homeless guy on the corner gets food, He puts it on the heart of someone to stop and give them food (or money for food). If He wants to help people in a rough neighborhood, He puts it on someone’s heart to minister to that area.
Those ones are pretty obvious. But, what about when He wants you to give more? Maybe that’s why you got that raise or that promotion. Maybe, the reason you were late for work was because He pulled some strings so that events would unfold in just such a way as to delay you because if you hadn’t been delayed, that car that ran a red light (that you never saw because you had to go back into your house after spilling coffee on your shirt) would have run right into the side of your car and you would have been killed.
What about when your home life is peaceful and harmonious? It could be as simple as God letting you get a breather and relax and enjoy your family because you either recently went through a struggle…or are about to. Maybe it’s more than a breather. Maybe He’s using you in some other way and difficulty with children or spouses would take your attention away from what you’re doing and therefore what you’re doing wouldn’t bless someone else as much.
Whatever the case may be, we should be careful to remember Him when things are going well. We should be careful to remember that He is sovereign and that He will bless us according to His perfect will. But just because He doesn’t always make it obvious that it’s Him doing the blessing, that doesn’t absolve us from having an attitude of gratitude. Because, while He may not be directly, causally involved in things going well for us every time, He is at least aware of it and He allows it to happen. Therefore, it is within His sovereign will.
As followers of Christ, let’s commit ourselves to continually be thankful for the good things we get. And not just one one particular Thursday in November, but every day. When we’re putting our well-behaved, A-student, community-service-minded children to bed, we should thank God right then and there for them.
Let’s show the world that God is not there just for people who are in trouble. He’s there in the good times and the bad times. During the highs and the lows. Maybe then, people will see that God is a God for our whole lives in their entirety and not just a tool sitting behind a sign saying “In Case of Emergency – Start Praying.”
Grace, love and peace.