But What If He Doesn't?
I’ve been seeing a few phrases floating around the Christian world and it seems that the more I hear them the increasingly concerned I become. Phrases such as “Won’t He do it?” and “Praises go up, blessings come down!” Phrases that on the surface seem harmless and most likely have really good intentions, but at the core severely lack Biblical-backing. Now there’s lots of phrases that I hear that I don’t generally agree with, but these type really strike a chord in me. Any ideology that structures around the idea that if we praise more we get more takes us all down a slippery slope. I’m not saying God doesn’t want us to be blessed, nor am I saying that believing for favor or blessings is in any way wrong. I ask God daily for things I want and I do my best to thank Him for every blessing He has given me. But I am saying that if our structure of faith is tied to whether or not God gives us earthly blessings then we’ve got it all wrong.
For the sake of playing the Devil’s advocate, let me show you a Biblical example of when praises went up, but I’m not so sure that blessings came down. 2 Corinthians 11 takes us to a writing from Paul, one of the most Christ-centered people to have ever lived. To be quite honest, his life was marked with a lot of pain and suffering, yet he remained faithful and worshipful through it all.
Anyway, he writes in 2 Corinthians 11:25-30 that “Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren;I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches.”
If that passage isn’t crystal clear, Paul dealt with a whole lotta bad in his life. The moment he was thrown off his horse in Damascus and began his mission for Jesus did not kick off an easygoing life. Quite the opposite actually. He consistently faced opposition, oppression and ostracization all the way until he died. Maybe you’re thinking at least his death was peaceful? It wasn’t, he was decapitated. What a fun story.
If we look at Paul’s life through the lens of the “praises go up, blessings come down” it makes us question whether or not Paul actually praised God. And therein lies the core issue with those type of phrases. This new doctrine we’ve adopted says that because God is our Father and dads want to bless their children that if we praise God there’s gonna be a shifting in our favor. Our faith in God has become reliant on what He can do for us rather than how we can serve Him. If your worship is dependent on the good things that happen to you, the moment life hits you in the face you’re gonna crumble and then blame God and ask where He is. Our view of God and the Bible has to come from a place of surrender and not selfishness. We can’t approach every time of prayer with what we want. We can’t spend every moment of corporate worship singing about how we feel, and we definitely can’t give to God in order to receive stuff back.
I tell you all this to say that Paul’s life was marked by martyrdom for the Christian faith, but yet he chose every day to keep the faith and praise God. He even writes at the end of his life in 2 Timothy 4:7-8 that “7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day.”
His blessings didn’t come until he reached Heaven, but that was enough for Paul. He was never a Christian for favor or for an easy ride. He was a Christian because he had a radical experience with God that made every other aspect of life, good and bad, fall short in comparison. There was nothing, there is nothing, that even comes close to the magnitude of Jesus, and getting as close to Him as possible is all the reason for praising God that Paul needed, and should be all we need.
So I want to end with this question: what if your blessing doesn’t come? You aren’t healed, that promotion doesn’t come through, the divorce is finalized, that child doesn’t come back home. If you never see another earthly blessing does that discount the gift of Jesus Christ? Because I’d argue that we don’t deserve a single earthly blessing, and we especially didn’t deserve Jesus in the first place. We are children of God and our Father wants to bless us, but that doesn’t mean our faith can be contingent upon the blessings we receive. So if you don’t get your blessing can you still praise God? Can you praise God for who He is and not what He’s done? Can you praise God with no conditions or reservations or clauses? Can you praise God simply because He deserves it?