Luke 24:13-32
This is Jesus heartburn(I have to credit Dallas Willard for this term!)...31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?"

Monday, May 16, 2011

Blessing or Curse?

Something has been bothering me today…there is a story for everything in the Bible…and sometimes honestly I get confused…by the way people use the stories and by how I use them too.

This morning we read from Joel…you know the book about locusts…and poverty became a plague and our blessings (of wealth, success, and health) became what the locust ate…and our obedience became the key to God restoring these things to us…and I wondered anew at why there is poverty and sickness and failure…and why a God who can use JOY as well as PAIN to teach us would chose to use pain more often…why do the people of Sierra Leone suffer so? is poverty a plague? and why does it make me angry to hear these dear friends tell me over and over that they are cursed because of their lack of wealth...that they suffer terribly...that I can't possibly understand heartache and lost because I have never lived their life of poverty...maybe they are right. Maybe poverty and failure and sickness are the worst sufferings imaginable and God is waiting to take it all away tomorrow if we just pray harder and have a bit more faith...but what if they are wrong? What if God's blessings come in different forms for different people...what if?

Jabez prayed and it seems from his short minute of Biblical fame he got what he asked for…wealth and increase…Hosea prayed and his wife continued to be a prostitute and he continued to live with a broken heart…Moses' mom gave him up for "adoption" and Ishmael's mom fought for him by running away with him to keep him safe…Ruth stayed with her mother-in-law and remained loyal to her family but Esther spent years denying her family ties…

I've been thinking…and I might be totally wrong…that it's not really about "pegging" God…saying this story proves that in this situation this will happen…it's more about revealing that God is intensely personal…he deals with us each in a personal way…that from these stories we can learn to trust that when we invite God into our story HE will make something beautiful from it…

So, for some poverty is a plague, I can't deny that millions suffer daily simply because they don't have enough money to buy food and medicine and that I pray that God and the CHURCH will step up and intervene on the behalf of the poor and opressed…For some wealth is a curse as it keeps them in bondage to the material world and they ignore the emptiness of their soul...

I have met some incredible people to whom God has not given wealth or provided a way out of poverty…but he has PROVIDED a faith that is strong, a determination that life is bigger than what happens here on this earth, and a total reliance on God and not self…I know OBEDIENT people who live without worldly possession and I know that God is a personal God…he knows each of our names and what we need and our obedience doesn't "restore" wealth or success or health but brings HIS riches of grace, HIS approval and presence in who we are and what we do, and HIS breath of life that measures our days and counts them before we are born.

Oh, that we could all learn that what we have or do not have is NOT a curse OR a blessing…it is simply, when we are willing, what God will use to shape us into the people He wants us to be and it might just be about perspective…the curse is living without seeing God's hand in it and allowing the enemy to use what we have or don't have to bring death and destruction into our lives…the blessing is placing it all in God's hands and somehow being able to say…like Shadrach, Meschak, and Abednego (Cari Logan translation and name spelling:) "If God saves us, GREAT…if not GREAT…HE IS STILL GOD AND WE WILL STILL TRUST HIM!"