Tag Archives: ISIS

Favor Vs Trust

I saw this on my FB feed, posted by a friend who often shares various positive affirmations from a number of Christian ministers:

Maybe this is true. But it shouldn't be expected or assumed in every situation.
Maybe this is true. But it shouldn’t be expected or assumed in every situation.

The Scripture reference provided is to the passage in Genesis where Joseph begins his painful journey being sold into slavery in Egypt. Through a variety of divine interventions and up-and-down circumstances, Joseph experiences blessings and pain until he ends up second only to Pharaoh in the kingdom.

With the benefit of hindsight, Joseph is able to tell his brothers that what they meant for evil, God meant for good, in order to save his family and the future nation.

Sitting in the pit and sitting in prison (just like sitting in Potiphar’s house and in the palace of Pharaoh), Joseph doesn’t know all that. He might have hope, based on God’s promises when he was young. He might have faith that God’s going to do something. But he has no certainty either way.

Yet Joseph remains faithful, for he trusts that God is also faithful.

When I read the status above, about God’s favor, I am grieved and distressed by the thought that we have missed the point.

We have a great hope that “God will work all things together for good for them that love Him and are called according to His purpose” (Rom 8:28). That may give us a warm fuzzy that something good in the future will come out of our present pain.

But we’re called not to count on the favor of God to rescue us. We’re called to live out of trust in God, regardless.

Consider Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Daniel 3. It’s a great story of how God protected His children in the midst of persecution. It would go very well with the status quoted above. Favor is going into the furnace’s flames, and coming out proclaiming His name. Or something like that.

But there are many Christians, so very many, who suffer and die and never see the manifestation of God’s favor. We may not see a Christian promoted to second-in-command of all of North Korea, or a trio of believers standing up unharmed by the AK-47s of ISIS in Iraq. We might not see God promote us to a position of our dreams or use us to display His power to an entire nation or community.

Do we enjoy His favor any less? Do we remain any less faithful?

Is favor the focus? Was favor ever Joseph’s focus?

I don’t think so. In pit or in palace, in fire or fame, as Christians our eyes must be fixed not on God’s immediate deliverance but on His eternal faithfulness.

17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
Daniel 3:17-18 NIV

Helpful Perspective

I spent a lot of time tonight griping with my friends on social media (and in person) about how disappointed we were in the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) movie.

Two of us sat there in the theater trying not to laugh at the wrong moments, like when a scene is clearly meant to convey some strong emotion or dramatic impact. We also tried not to be emotionally moved by the inane plot, the logical breakdowns in the story, and the constant terrible dialogue.

Normally it’s good when a viewer leaves thinking about a movie, unable to shake the feelings the film created. But not in this case.

Since misery loves company, we took our enjoyment in pondering how bad the movie was, in our opinion. “My childhood is weeping,” I posted on Facebook.

After a lot of back-and-forth banter, I scrolled through the rest of my feed. And my thoughts were swiftly refocused on what matters.

I make jokes about suffering inflicted on my childhood memories by a bad movie. But then I see stories about how children in Iraq are being beheaded for no reason other than the family they were born into.

I’m frustrated by being away from my family for seemingly no reason for the last week or so. Meanwhile, families are being ripped apart figuratively, as it happens literally to family members.

I miss my wife, my daughter, and my sons, who I will probably see in a day or two. In Iraq, wives and daughters are being taken away from homes, forced into “marriages” against their will, or flat-out raped. Husbands and boys are being murdered. Whole families are being slaughtered.

My wife and kids are dealing with the many boxes of belongings we finally received from Nebraska. I’m thinking of work I need to do to help arrange all that furniture and just plain stuff when I get home. Other families in the world have been forced to leave their belongings behind, fleeing to survive, threatened with death should they return to their homes that have been marked by ISIS.

Is it wrong to see a movie? No, that’s not what I’m saying. Is it wrong to miss my family? Of course not. Should we never have fun because there are horrible things going on elsewhere in the world? That would be foolish.

But when I start to think for even a second that I’ve got it so bad, I’m challenged by the news the West is getting (and finally paying attention to) from over there.

There isn’t an easy answer or solution, only a competing array of undesired options. The thought of further military involvement sucks. A decision to ignore the atrocities taking place would be unconscionable. And there aren’t a lot of viable choices that might make a lick of difference in between those two extremes.

I don’t have an answer. I don’t have much in the way of resources to throw at this crisis. And I don’t even have much of a following to hear me rant about how something must be done, as if my words would make some difference.

But at least I can stop and take my mind for a time off the meaningless and banal, if for no other reason than to say that the call for help is being heard and passed on.

And I can remember and cherish what matters most: appreciating family, coming together despite our differences, and taking care of each other…

which, oddly enough and despite all its faults, was the point of TMNT.