The Unintended Double-Edged Sword (Part II)

Last week I wrote this piece about the creeping prosperity gospel. It seems we associate God’s favor with favorable outcomes. The discussion in the comments was uplifting, introspective, and enlightening.

I’d like to add a bit of clarification today. We should rejoice in God’s mercy in favorable seasons. But the more poignant question is what do we make of God’s favor, his mercy in seasons of drought?

How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O LORD my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death…
~Psalm 13:2-3

Scripture is filled with examples of the torment of the righteous. But the righteous of scripture are marked by their understanding of salvation’s source, of providence even in the midst of torment.

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.
~Psalm 43:5

All day long my disgrace is before me,
and shame has covered my face
at the sound of the taunter and reviler,
at the sight of the enemy and the avenger.
All this has come upon us,
though we have not forgotten you,
and we have not been false to your covenant.

Rise up; come to our help!
Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love!
~Psalm 44:15-17, 26

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
~Romans 8:18

The troubles of my present life are nothing compared to those of David, Paul, or the modern persecuted church. In fact, things are looking up around here and I’m grateful. But if things should take a turn for the worse, I hope I’ll still recognize God’s faithfulness, his salvation, and the glory brought-on by suffering. Even in the dark days. Those seem to be the marks of the righteous.

Today, Jennifer Dukes Lee writes more on the topic of faith and suffering. She writes:

Faith is not believing in a false promise of prosperity, but in the abiding presence of Christ.

Would you take a gander at her words today? It’ll be worth your time; I promise.

This entry was posted in A Good God, Mercy, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to The Unintended Double-Edged Sword (Part II)

  1. Eyvonne says:

    The more I listen to this song ( the more I hear it as a lament in difficult times that yield worship. Thank you for your words.

  2. Love this. Loved the first installment and love this one too. Thanks for your faithfulness to the word.

  3. pastordt says:

    Love this, loved Jennifer’s words when I read them last night. They are living in the middle of this reality, as are you. We’ve been there, too. Several different times. And I am eternally grateful for the psalms of lament, for the way they give shape to the words that are needed at times like these. Yes, the laments do move to praise and acceptance – most of them, not all. And yes, that movement is an important part of the process.

    But I think we have such a tendency in this culture – maybe even most often in certain parts of this Christian culture – to entirely skip the lamenting part, or to move too quickly through it. And it is so important. I wonder sometimes why we think being Christian means somehow being LESS than human, when in reality, it means being FULLY human, even as Jesus was. Tears and fear were part of his life, too. Real tears. Real fear. Because he was so fully in tune with the Father, he navigated through them, modeling for us that neither tears nor fear, in and of themselves, are sinful. (I think many sectors of the church believe this to be true – if pushed, they would say that ‘giving in’ to sadness is sinful…oy vey). Rather, both are necessary parts of the human experience. Learning to pray as the psalmists pray (which was also exactly what Jesus did) is one way we, too, can learn to navigate the murky waters of distress and suffering. Thanks for these (and those other) words, Seth.

  4. Great Part 2. Loved Part 1. Both are profound Truth. Thanks for wrapping words around this. Its important stuff. And yes, I loved Jennifer’s post today. Beauty in the pain. Hope in the difficulties. Trust. Thank you Seth, your words are a gift.

  5. Good morning, Seth.

    I appreciate you. Thank you for sharing these Scriptures, which are just right for today, and really, for any day. You are a wise, wise man.

    In gratitude,
    and in continued prayer for Titus,


  6. Laura says:

    When I read your words today I was reminded of the Psalm that I cling to over and over… Psalm 77. I read the lamenting in the Psalmist’s words… with a soul that refused to be comforted, a faint spirit, groaning and at times too troubled to even speak… but then I keep reading and I hear the words in verses 8,9,10,11,12, and 13…

    “Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time? Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion? Then I thought, “To this I will appeal the years of the right hand of the Most High. I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all your words and consider all your might deeds. Your ways, O God, are holy. What god is so great as our God?”

    I struggle so often with the God who was and the God who is to come. I think that I know the God who is now… the one that I feel forgotten by or at times even punished by because of circumstances in our life as a family… but when I appeal to who He is (that is unchanging regardless of the circumstances on this earth) and remind myself of the people He has redeemed (v.15), the waters that He has moved (v.16) and the path the He made for his people, their salvation given by their Protector… I am calmed, I am comforted and I am reminded that I (the created) in the midst of the tears, the doubt and at times the true agony, will praise Him and trust that “Your ways, O God, are holy.” Praying fervently for you and Amber, sweet little man TItus and his precious brothers!

    • sethhaines says:

      Laura, you have always spoken with scripture in ways that bring balanced grace. I’ve appreciated that quality for many years now.

      Thanks for the words and the prayers. And… as always…

      Tell G I said, “what up.”

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