I'm getting a lot of mileage out of the incident upon which I've already based a couple of recent articles related to how God doesn't treat us as our sins deserve (Quay County Sun, April 17, 2013 and May 1, 2013). Here is another one and probably the last one:
You might recall that I had promised a reward after one of our children had occupied his siblings with a movie so I could complete an article without distraction. After his fleeting moment of goodness he backslid and I considered rescinding the reward, but I decided against doing that.
Because God doesn't treat us as our sins deserve, the kind of life we'll have on earth doesn't necessarily reflect our relationship with him. That is, having a troubled life on earth doesn't mean that one is sinful and prosperity doesn't mean that one is blessed by God for living a godly life. That was apparently the philosophy in the Patriarchal Age of Abraham and Job and into the Mosaic Age (Job 1:6-11; 4:7-9; Deuteronomy 28:1-68).
The fact is, Christians, no matter how faithful, will face the same problems common to all people — illness, tragedy, disappointments, poverty and/or prosperity (yes, prosperity can be a problem — 1 Timothy 6:9-10; Matthew 19:16-24), and death. Besides that, we'll be persecuted for our faith even if that's limited to having to watch the wickedness of others when we're trying to live a godly life (2 Timothy 3:12-13; 2 Peter 2:8).
Any promise of relief for the godly pertains to eternal life while the warning of punishment pertains to this life and the life to come (1 Peter 1:3-9; 2 Peter 2:9). If we maintain our love for God and faith in his power to protect us, he'll put a shield (hedge) around us that will protect our salvation even if we lose all our worldly possessions or our physical life is taken (Matthew 6:19-21; 10:28; 24:12-13). While no one can take our salvation away, we can turn our back on God's promises and fall from that secure position being worse off in the end (John 10:27-30; Hebrews 6:4-6; 2 Peter 2:20-21; 3:17; 1:3-11).
Our outlook on any problem as Christians, therefore, is to be one of joy because of what God can do for and through us as a result of any trouble (James 1:2-4; Romans 5:1-5; 8:28).
As difficult as it may be, we're to not even be concerned about what might happen in this life and our faith has to remain above our trials because that's the only way we'll survive the trials and get the most mileage out of whatever life throws at us (John 16:33; Matthew 6:25-34).
When we have this proper perspective and maintain our faith and focus on Jesus, surviving the trials increases our faith so that we can continue to see past the problems to our future eternal life (Hebrews 11:32 to 12:4).
I wonder if the term "good grief" was devised to remind us of James 1:2-4.
Leonard Lauriault is a member of the Church of Christ in Logan. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org