Be forewarned. This is a rant.
I often see on social media things like, “Chase God and blessings will chase you”. While we all need some encouragement at times, a great number of pastors should quit the ministry and go in to motivational speaking. When all they say is “If you just hang in there, the Lord will turn this around”. “If you just have faith, God will _________”. They’re setting followers of Jesus up for disappointment, discouragement, and doubt when God doesn’t “come through” with what they want.
While “blessing” might be a guarantee from the Lord if you follow Him, blessings don’t mean what you and I often think or wish. Five chapters into Matthew, the first book of the New Testament, we hear Jesus defining blessing. And it’s not what we want to hear. He doesn’t say, “If you mourn, you will be blessed if you just hang in there, because I will fix it.” He says you will be blessed by being comforted as you mourn. He doesn’t say if you’re persecuted that it will soon end because He will send 10,000 angels to save you. Persecution sucks, but He says to the persecuted, “You will have a great reward in heaven”.
It would have been much easier for the disciples if they preached prosperity instead of repentance. Jesus would have been much more popular while He was alive if He had promised free stuff to everyone. Leonard Ravenhill said, “If Jesus preached the way preachers today preach, they never would have killed Him”. Instead, Jesus said, “Pick up your cross” and follow me. Many people turned away.
I have a pastor friend whose wife has lung cancer. With the “Jesus blesses His children” mentality, it would lead us to say, “What’s up with that, Jesus? Doesn’t she deserve better? Do you know how they’ve served you?” What about people who are lonely? (old or young). What about pastors facing opposition from their congregation? I think of Tim Tebow. Miss Universe (or whatever she was) supposedly dumped him because he was too much of a Jesus follower. Dietrich Bonhoeffer led the church to stand against Hitler and Bonhoeffer died in a Nazi concentration camp.
Hear me. 10 of the 11 original apostles died a martyr’s death. Why should I expect prosperity and ease? I posted on Facebook an hour or so ago, “If you’re facing opposition or obstacles, sometimes it’s because you’re doing something contrary to God’s will and sometimes it’s because you’re doing God’s will. When you face them, ask God for the wisdom to figure out which it is.”
Sometimes the hardship is from the Lord. Sometimes the “blessing” is from Satan.
And you can now say, “Wow. Really wants to make me follow Jesus”. I can tell you that if you do follow Him after hearing this, you will not fall away when the trials come. And hanging on to the Lord through the disappointments and trials of life is what I call being blessed.