Pursuing God Solely for His Blessings

Imagine being bedridden for several years due to the ravaging affects of an unknown illness. Pain is your constant companion. Friends have become scarce, and you feel you have been completely abandoned by anyone who could brighten your days. You're facing death all alone. Does anyone really care?

If this were you, would you still be worshipping God with all of your heart? It's easy enough to follow God when you see how He blesses you. However, we must ask ourselves: Are we pursuing God to have a relationship with Him, or simply to receive His blessings? Is it possible that we have caught the Santa Claus syndrome? That we treat God solely as kids treat Santa Claus? "Dear God, I would like better health. And while you're at it, you've promised prosperity if I give of my tithes and offerings. Well, I've done MY part . . . Hint!"

In a materialistic world like ours, it is really easy to look at relationships as ways to satisfy our personal wants and desires. But what happens when the roof caves in and the expected gifts suddenly stop showing up? Are we still eager to have this "relationship" with God?

Job experienced such disaster. Besides losing all of his possessions and all of his children, he lost his health as well. The only friends remaining were ones that enjoyed accusing him. Hardly pleasant company when you've just lost everything! His wife wasn't very encouraging either. She complained: "Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!" (Job 2:9 NIV)

Job refused to let himself be swayed. His response was firm: "You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" (Job 2:10 NIV)

It is so easy to start blaming God for our troubles, especially when His blessings seem to have evaporated from our lives! However, if we do not stand firm, our lives will turn out to be worse off than ever before, and eventually we may even be tempted to toy with the idea of suicide.

Let's see what we can learn from Job: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised." (Job 1:21 NIV)

Job continued to praise God through his trials. Why? Because Job had spent his life pursuing a RELATIONSHIP with God, not simply a blessing!

Be aware that the Christian way is not the easy way. Expect troubles! "In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted…" (2 Tim 3:12 2 NIV); and "We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God." (Acts 14:22 NIV).

How will you react when you are in the midst of trials, when everything seems bleak, when all of your friends seem to have evaporated from the surface of the earth? You can be assured that these times WILL come! If you do not have a sound and stable relationship with God now, chances are, you will believe the lies spoken by the one who put us in our misery in the first place, and you will turn on God! "You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies." (John 8:44 NIV)

Consider this poor widow: "A poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, 'I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything-all she had to live on.'" (Mark 12:42-44 NIV)

Far from being disgruntled, this poor widow gave all that was left of her possessions to help others, all the while praising God for being able to help out in this manner! She knew her Maker, and as a result, she believed beyond doubt that God would provide for all her needs, no matter what. She hadn't adopted the Santa Claus syndrome. Her only concern was to have a personal relationship with the One who loved her. She continued to praise God despite her circumstances.

I was living in Tucson, Arizona when I received the call. I had taught French for three years at a college in Washington state, and during that time I had highly encouraged my students to participate in a one year exchange program abroad. The voice on the other end was that of a former student:

"Hi, this is Cynthia." (Not her real name.)

"Hi Cynthia!" I exclaimed. "It's good to hear from you!" None of my former students knew my phone number. How had she found out how to contact me?

"I have some bad news to share with you," she stated.

I could hear her sobbing softly, and I became suddenly serious: "What happened???"

"My fiancé died yesterday," was her simple response.

Cynthia's fiancé had been one of my former students as well, and it had been under my encouragement that he had gone to France for the year. "What happened?" I asked, trying to keep my shaking voice under control.

"He went out to climb the Salève (a local mountain near the college in France). He usually went with someone; but this time, he couldn't find anyone who wanted to go with him, so he decided to climb it on his own. We're not sure exactly how it happened, but he lost his footing and plunged to his death at the bottom of the mountain."

Her tears poured forth now. How I wished I could hug her and tell her everything would be all right, but reality kept me from it. After all, everything would NEVER be okay again! All I could do was to stammer out: "Oh no!"

Silence followed as I desperately tried to find the right words to say. Then I heard her say: "I'll be okay. I'll miss him, and I wish things could have turned out differently, but I know that one day I will see him again! Oh, I can't wait for that day!"

Wow! I was floored! Instead of blaming God, she was relying on Him for strength, and as a result, she was assured that she would see her fiancé again!

"I'm hanging on to Jesus," she continued. "I know He will hold me up."

These words stuck with me for a long time. I knew Cynthia wouldn't be disappointed!

So just what do we do when life falls apart? Will we, like Cynthia, let God catch us? Or will we blame Him instead? The choice is ours to make. In the meantime, may I encourage you to get to know Jesus as your personal Savior. You will discover that He is indeed your friend. He truly cares for you. He wants you to be His friend. Will you let Him?

"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." (1 Peter 5:7 NIV)

Will you let Him catch you?

Rob Chaffart

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