Your faith is demonstrated in how you respond to problems

Your faith is demonstrated in how you respond to problems

In some circles, Christians are directly taught that if they are faithful to God, they will be blessed with an abundant, happy and healthy life. It is a compelling message. We’d love it to be true. A neat life where faithfulness directly leads to an easy life right now sounds fantastic!

And this is not only an issue for Christians who have been taught this kind of prosperity theology. All of us will, at times, think along these lines. We will wonder if the problems we are currently facing are some sort of judgement from God. We will be upset if our plans don’t come about, assuming that God should give us what we want.

Yet the ease of your life is a bad indicator of your faith in God. Even a cursory look at the Bible will demonstrate that. The men who wrote Psalms 37 and 73 both noted that those who care nothing for God often seem to have happy, successful lives while believers struggle. Evil kings like Ahab and Manasseh reigned for a long time. The prophets and apostles all had difficult lives facing all kinds of problems. Life is not as simple as the faithful getting blessed now and the wicked facing immediate judgement.

Looking through the many kings described in 1 and 2 Kings, both good and bad, is instructive for us here. The vast majority of them faced major problems in their lives. The difference between the good kings and the wicked kings was not the circumstances they lived through; it was how they reacted to those circumstances. All of them faced problems. The faithful ones trusted God in those problems, while the wicked ones did not.

Omri (1 Kings 16:21-28), for example, was an incredibly evil king who started a dynasty of evil kings, including his son Ahab. He rebuilt cities and was known for his might and ruled for a long time. Compare this to someone like Hezekiah (2 Kings 18-20), who faced a serious personal sickness and a siege that threatened his capital city. His life seemed more difficult than that of Omri, yet he called to God in his troubles and trusted in the word of God’s prophets.

What should we do with these examples? Here are some possibilities:

  1. Have the right expectations of life

God does not promise us ease, wealth and a long life, whatever some preachers might teach. God’s people have always suffered. Sometimes, this is due to simply being sinners in a sinful world; other times, it might be directly due to our faith. In any case, we should be ready for difficulties, not only for peace and ease.

  1. It is not for us to know why we face what we face

The ‘why’ question often leads nowhere. Yes, there were times in 1 and 2 Kings when a famine or event happened directly due to God’s judgement. Most of the time we won’t know why our lives are how they are. Perhaps we have issues due to our own sinful decisions; maybe it is part of a bigger plan of God we have not been told about. Seeking to know why is not the main focus of what we should be thinking and doing.

  1. How can I serve Jesus now in this imperfect situation?

This is the key question to ask. We can respond to any situation with faith or with self-reliance. We can enjoy God’s current blessings to us or we can complain that we wanted more. We can show what it looks like to persevere through illness knowing our God loves us, or we can complain constantly and make the lives of all around us a misery. Whatever your life is like now, you can honour God in your personal circumstances. Show your faith in what you do.