God’s good gifts sometimes don’t seem so good. We think that all of God’s blessings will be things that bring instant gratification and will make our lives easier.
But then Jesus says to us in the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12) that those who are poor in spirit, those who mourn, those who are meek are the ones who are blessed (or happy).
He says to us that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are blessed; not those whose desire is for temporal pleasures.
He says that the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers are the ones who are blessed.
And if that weren’t enough, He continues by teaching us that those who are persecuted are blessed!
Do you believe that? Honestly? In my weak moments, I don’t. I know in my heart that it is true because I believe that God’s Word is incapable of failing or being wrong, and, therefore, this must be true.
But if you caught me off guard, I’d probably say, “No! It’s crazy to think that those who are being persecuted for their faith are the ones who are really happy.”
And yet here we have Jesus telling us this is so.
So Jesus has shown us the way to be the recipients of his blessings. But are we willing, am I willing, to repent of unbelief? By God’s grace, yes.
“Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
(Isaiah 55:1 ESV)
We think want God’s blessings, but often what we want is what the world has to offer instead. And the world’s “gifts” will always disappoint us.
We think, If I can just get that girl, I’ll be happy. And when we get the girl, the butterflies in our stomach eventually fly away and life is kind of… normal. And we seek happiness again.
We think, If I can just get that job, then I’ll be really happy. And when we get the job there is a kind of satisfaction in that: I’m making more money, I’m expanding my skills. But eventually you wake up one Monday morning and say, “I don’t want to go to work today!” The buzz has worn off, and we’re left seeking happiness again.
So we take all that big money we’re making in our new job and think, “If I can just get that car I’ve always wanted.” You know what happens next. Hail. Rust. A rogue shopping cart. French fries under the seat. That new car isn’t new forever.
And we’re left longing for something more.
Of course I’d be remiss if I passed up the opportunity to quote the English poet, Sir Michael Philip Jagger, who so eloquently wrote:
“When I’m drivin’ in my car
And the man comes on the radio
And he’s tellin’ me more and more
About some useless information
Supposed to fire my imagination…
When I’m watchin’ my TV
And a man comes on and tells me
How white my shirts can be
But he can’t be a man ’cause he doesn’t smoke The same cigarettes as me…
I can’t get no satisfaction.”
But Jesus says there is a way that we can be satisfied. Who will we believe—Jesus, or Mick Jagger?
It is no longer a matter of whether or not we can be satisfied, but where we are seeking satisfaction. We must recognize that what we have so long thought of as the way God will bless us might not be the way He has chosen.
Prosperity cannot be a proof of God’s favor, since it is what the devil promises to those who worship him. (Matt. 4:9)
— John Piper (@JohnPiper) July 6, 2012
I was once on staff at a church as a music minister for a couple years until I was abruptly fired for secondary theological differences with the senior pastor. At the time, it was absolutely devastating to my wife and I. In one fell swoop we lost our circle of friends, our place of worship, and my sole source of income. But as we’ve moved on in the subsequent years and have seen the ways in which my wife and I have both grown in the Lord, we have come to recognize that what once devastated us was in fact a wonderful gift from God.
I would have rather received a gift from the Lord that looked like a new car, a pay raise, a book and/or record deal, and a housing allowance. But that wasn’t what He had planned for us.
And today we thank God for bringing us out from where we were and giving us a place of fellowship where the Word of God is the ultimate authority and not one man, a church family that has loved us and prayed with us through joys and trials, and good jobs that provide for our physical needs.
So God’s good gifts sometimes don’t seem so good. To us. But what needs to change isn’t God’s good gifts, but our hearts.
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
(Ezekiel 36:26 ESV)