A few weeks ago, I posted a reflection on social media about how blessed my life has been since I had decided to turn it over and follow Jesus. Not trouble-free, but blessed with enough of everything we needed and much of what we’ve ever really wanted. It wasn’t meant to be taken as any kind of gloating, but given the weeks I’ve had since then, I can’t help but think back to the beginning of the biblical book of Job and how it begins with a conversation between God and the adversary. I’ll paraphrase God’s part: “Hey, Satan, check out my servant, Job. He’s awesome!” To which the adversary replies, “Oh yeah? He’s only good because you’ve given him everything. Hold my beer and watch this…”
Since that time, my furnace and a/c have needed replacement, the brakes went out on one of our cars, and our street was being resurfaced preventing us from using our driveway for two weeks. Amid all of those inconveniences was when we received the call from my wife’s doctor with the results of her biopsy. Pastor Hope was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer, which put everything else in perspective.
Do I think that I somehow invited the calamitous month I’ve had by reflecting on my blessings in honest humility and giving God a ‘shout out’ on Instagram? Not really. It’s not how I think God works and I’m not sure what I believe about how evil works, but if all of these unfortunate events were the work of evil to try and get me, like Job, to “curse God and die,” it’s not going to work.
Since Hope’s diagnosis, we’ve seen God’s loving care at work through our congregations and even extending to other faith communities. This Sunday’s text is Matthew’s Beatitudes and I consider these blessings from a very different place this year. The blessings aren’t that awful things and injustices won’t happen to you, it is that God cares when they do and will respond to your needs.
The year ahead will be challenging for us, but we know that we will face them with lots of help, encouragement, and prayers of faithful people who love us and the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit. To be a ‘fair-weather friend’ of God is to miss out on the best benefit of being a person of faith: If you’re doing it right, it is there for you when you need it the most.