“Why can’t You just give me this so I don’t have to ask anymore?”
I know. It sounds like a pretty spiritually immature thing to pray. But to be honest, I was weary of taking this ongoing problem to the Lord every time it reared its ugly head. Why couldn’t He just fix it permanently so I didn’t have to deal with it anymore?
Because I don’t like dealing with problems. They make me uncomfortable. I don’t like being uncomfortable. I’d rather God would just make the problems go away and then everything would be blue skies and rainbows for me all the time. Just the way I like it.
Even the most liberal Liberal has heard a story or two about the welfare system that made him raise an eyebrow. As a radical, right-wing, uptight, Bible-thumping, evangelical Conservative, I’ll admit I’ve groused about the problems with the system a time or two. I think one of the things that tends to bother most people about some of the stories we hear is the sense of entitlement a few (certainly not all) welfare recipients can develop. It’s as though they are owed a nice lifestyle without having to lift a finger. They take what they receive for granted, and whatever they are given is never enough. They always want more. Nicer. Better. No gratitude, just gimme.
That hits uncomfortably close to home.
You see, I’m living in God’s welfare system.
When was the last time I had to ask God for air to breathe? Or to make my heart beat? Or for clean water to drink, bathe, and do laundry in? Or food for my table?
When was the last time I even thought about the fact that I can think clearly enough to thank Him that I don’t have a psychiatric disorder or a brain injury? How often do I get down on my knees and praise God that I can get back up again? I can walk. I can talk. I can see. I can hear.
God has blessed my family with six beautiful, healthy children, four of whom I was able to conceive, carry, and bear, relatively complication free.
I have a wonderful, Godly husband and great father to my children who isn’t a drug addict or a gambling addict, or an alcoholic, or a workaholic, or unfaithful or abusive to me. We live in a nice house, on a nice street, in a nice safe neighborhood.
God has blessed me with an extended family as well as a church family who both love me in spite of my numerous faults. He’s even given me the humbling honor of being able to serve Him in ministry and as an author.
But I always want more. Nicer. Better. No gratitude, just gimme.
Paul said in II Corinthians 12:7-9 that God gave him a thorn in the flesh to keep him from exalting himself. Frequently our focus in that passage is on speculating as to what, exactly, the “thorn” was. We fail to notice in the next verse that that thorn kept Paul coming back to the Lord, crying out to Him again and again. And that’s right where Paul needed to be.
Sometimes that’s one of the purposes of our problems. God has blessed us with so many things we can forget we need Him. Until there’s a problem. And that problem can drive us back to crying out to Him in dependence in a way that no blessing ever could.
So maybe it’s time for a little welfare check:
1. Have you thanked God lately–really thanked Him–for all the blessings we tend to take for granted– food, clothing, freedom, a vehicle, etc.? Do you live as though God owes you these things?
2. In what ways do problems tend to drive you towards, or away from, God?
3. What does your prayer life look like when everything is going well in your life? When problems arise? How can you apply Philippians 4:6 in your prayer life?