God Is More Concerned With Our Character Than Our Comfort

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

man walking in desert
I'm not much of a fan of Christian TV programs. I will say that not all preachers on TV are bad. I won't even go so far as to say that most of them are. They aren't, but it's the most vocal ones that bother me. The popular message of the day being preached over the airwaves is prosperity, wealth and health. Don't get me wrong. I do believe the Lord wants his children to prosper, be successful and enjoy health but I believe God is more concerned with the condition of our hearts than our comfort. This is exactly what happened in Babylon during the Jewish captivity under Nebuchadnezzar. The prophets of the day were promising a quick overthrow of Israel's oppressor and that deliverance was just over the horizon. Read the story in Jeremiah 28 and 29.

One of the most quoted scriptures is found in this section. It's Jeremiah 29:11--"I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." I love that passage. It's one of my favorites too. But if you read this wonderful promise in the entirety of its context, you will find that it really isn't a warm, fuzzy scripture designed to make us feel better when we are facing trials. The Lord gave this word to Jeremiah to refute the prophecy of Hananiah who was telling the Israelites to relax and wait for the Lord's deliverance. This wasn't the plan God had though. God's plan was for them to settle down in Babylon for a time, build houses, build their families and prosper in captivity. He didn't want them to wait until they were back in Jerusalem. He was testing them to see if they would follow him even when life wasn't so good.

It's easy to serve God when you have a steady paycheck, when you have your health and everything is going good. But what about when life isn't working out? What if we become victims of the economy and suddenly find ourselves out of work with no income? What if we come back from the doctor with bad news about our health? What do we do when life falls apart? That is when we must be determined to serve God anyway. It doesn't take much faith to trust in God when you are living in prosperity. In fact, I wonder if that is really faith at all. It takes real faith, courage and determination to follow after him with all our hearts when life stinks.

This principle is also found in Isaiah 40:3 where he says to prepare a way for the Lord in the desert and to make a highway for our God in the wilderness. Then every valley will be raised up and every mountain and hill made low. We tend to get it backwards and wait until God raises the valleys and lowers the mountains first. Yes, God wants you to prosper. He wants you to be happy and successful. But more than that, He wants you to have character. Don't wait until things turn around. Do it now. Today is the day. Seize the moment and go for it while you are in the desert place. That is where you realize God's plan.
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