There’s a common misconception out there that God’s favor looks like multi-million dollar houses and BMW’s. That once you accept him as your Savior, you will gain his favor and all will be right as rain in your world with nary a care. Who doesn’t love the smell of a new car??
It’s kind of easy to do, to fall into this favored-means-favorite-so-God-won’t-give-you-more-than-you-can-handle trap. I can’t tell you the number of times I found myself knee deep in it and wondered what in the heck I was doing wrong. Was God angry with me? Did he care? Was I not faithful enough? Does it really matter?
If favored meant a perfect marriage with perfect kids and a white picket fence, no struggles, no strains, no skeletons haunting you and you had more money than month then at times I felt like his most un-favored.
Somehow we’ve twisted the favor of God to be a golden ticket for a front row seat in the audience of Oprah’s favorite things. Walking away with all the booty and bling and none of the suffering.
Last fall I started paying attention to the people in the Bible who are favored by God. It’s easy to wrap their lives in pretty packages and tie them up with a bow because we know the whole story. But everyone has a messy middle.
Take Noah, for example, who found favor in the eyes of the Lord. (Genesis 6:8 NIV) He and his family were saved from dying in the flood. On the first boat ever made. With a bunch of animals. And no time-line. We have 16 chickens that make a lot of manure. I cannot imagine how much poo each of those 2×2’s produced. And remember it rained for forty days and forty nights but the Noah family was on the ark around 270 days. I’m sure he didn’t feel so favored at times.
Then there’s highly favored Mary the Mother of Jesus who found favor with God. (Luke 1:28,30NIV) What an honor to be chosen to birth the Savior of the world. But we get blinded by the twinkling lights shining down on the trees stuffed with presents and packages underneath to remember how hard it must have been to walk the road as highly favored.
A virgin who becomes pregnant also becomes the chatter of much gossip. Riding on a donkey for miles when you’re ready to give birth then giving birth in a cave among farm animals. Fleeing to save your Son’s life because some dude has lost his ever-loving jealous mind. Watching your Son grow up and do miracles and ministry only to be beaten and hung on a tree. I wonder if at any point Mary thought highly favored was over-rated?
What about Moses who was leading some pretty whiny people through the desert and was just about ready to give up? His burden had become too heavy to bear, the people to burdensome to lead, wearied from dealing with it all he says to the Lord, if I have found favor in your eyes… (Numbers 11:15 NIV) God heard. God answered. But not in a way you might think.
Moses had indeed found favor in the eyes of the Lord but he still had to face the hard thing….just not alone. God asked him to bring seventy elders and officials with him to the Tent of Meeting so they could stand with Moses before God.
They will help you carry the burden of the people so that you will not have to carry it alone. (Numbers 11:15-17NIV)
Favor in all three scenarios is the word grace.
God’s grace is what saw Noah through the storm.
God’s grace is what allowed Mary to endure hardships and heartache.
God’s grace is what enabled Moses to carry out his duties as leader.
Each one was favored by God. Each one had been given more than they could handle but for the grace of God.
No. The favor of God doesn’t always feel good. We will be asked to weather the storm and shovel some stuff that stinks. We will be chosen to minister from places of heartache and hurt, places not of our choosing. We will be asked to face difficult challenges, desert places and dire circumstances.
But never alone.
That’s the favor of God.
Jesus said, I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:20 MSG)