Most of us, especially in western culture, usually equate God’s favor with open doors, more money and happy circumstances. When someone hears “God is giving you favor” this would generally be thought of as good news.
This reminds me of Mary in Luke Chapter 1. The angel Gabriel appears to her and says -Hey Mary, you are highly favored and God is with you! Because of this favor, God is going to birth his entire redemption plan through you! (paraphrased)
This sounds great! But what if the angel had played that movie out a bit for her and told her the whole story. He failed to mention that:
But you know… he’ll rise again and everything will be all good in the end… I would have been wondering why the angel started with calling me favored.
Having the favor of God on us sometimes puts us in situations of unavoidable personal pain due to both the depravity of humanity and the intense growth needed to fulfill our purpose.
Just for clarity, I’m not subscribing at all to a theology that God sends bad things to teach us lessons or punish us. I’m just acknowledging that hard things happen sometimes. Life situations that bring us pain and growth seasons that are painful to walk through.
When going through a challenging season James 1:3-4 says…”don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.”
I just got back in the gym again after having a baby. It’s safe to say my core is not at optimum strength so I place myself, purposefully, in classes focused on core work. By doing this I’m choosing pain because this area is my weakest. I could just opt to work on arms or do light cardio but I wouldn’t have the same growth if I did. I want my whole body to be strong. I see that in the big picture I’ll be glad that I embraced this momentary pain.
Both literally and figuratively- sometimes pain is the only tool that can shape internal structures that we need to hold the weight of the next season. Even though it feels bad, it isn’t always producing bad things in us if we process it correctly.
So what does it actually mean to be favored by God?
God’s favor is on us for our ultimate and eternal good, not always reflected by our temporary situation. We have to be able to reconcile that the big picture is going to show us something later that we don’t see in the middle.
For those who have been through pain due to sin and human depravity, it doesn’t have to define you forever! God works every painful thing that happens to us into purpose and ultimately can use it if we allow him too. Even the things that were not good God can use for good. I have a friend who was brutally attacked and raped, resulting in a child. She had the baby and now all these years later she travels to war torn areas to help heal and release trauma victims from pain! We don’t wish for the bad things yet if we can put them in His hands we can become healers to a world that previously injured us.
For those who go through major pruning and refinement. Believe it or not, sometimes we are actually promoted into painful seasons. We are taking a step forward though all natural signs indicate the opposite. In the middle of that pain we are actually closer to our purpose than we were in the happy season we just left. It’s so that God can give us what he wants to give us next without it ultimately crippling us. He’s building our core.
Sometimes a great calling has a high personal cost. Those who are willing to take both the joy and suffering of various kinds can accomplish great things for God. As Christians we need to remember that this life is temporal!
I’m sure most people have read the famous “Serenity Prayer” in a journal or on a fridge magnet, but I’m sure very few of us have read the entire prayer:
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; Enjoying one moment at a time; Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will; That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him Forever in the next. Amen.
Favor doesn’t mean we will have a pain-free life. Heaven is our home. Eternity needs to be our perspective.