For too long I viewed God like a genie I could make wishes to. I had false expectations of both God and the faith journey. I thought if I followed Jesus, I’d be happy and healthy and would face fewer big problems. As long as I was clean and sober, I reasoned, I could basically do what I wanted. ~Jud Wilhite, Torn
We might dismiss the idea outright that God is a genie only interested in fulfilling our wishes. But let’s not be hasty and dismiss the idea that we have been guilty of thinking that God would keep the big problems away from us if we were just faithful. And let’s ask ourselves if we have presented that theory to our children.
Bad things happen to all people. It is reasonable, from a human perspective, to think that if we give our lives to an all powerful God that He will keep the really bad things away from us. We have not learned this from experience. I would guess every reader of this post could name some wonderful godly person who has suffered tremendously. The life of faith is not one free from trial, trouble, and terror.
Wilhite gives a chilling example of godly parents who are dealing with the illness of their child. Not just any illness, but one that causes seizures and no amount of surgery or medication has brought relief.
Without saying so, we can put on blinders … accumulate a set of expectations that provide the false hope that because we have committed our lives to God, nothing bad is going to happen. One of the greatest mysteries of the universe is that bad things happen to good people (and bad people too, but we tend to think they deserve it). There are a dozen theological ‘explanations’, but none of them cure the unsettled feeling when it seems that God has forgotten us.
But the truth is that God promises to walk with us through the valley of the shadow of death. He provides no detour. He promises no bridge over the valley. He offers no tunnel underneath. We walk through, but we never walk alone. That’s what we need to tell our children. That’s what we need to remember in our own struggles.
Our expectations of God might be drawn more from our own imaginations about what we think ought to be, rather than from the reality of His word and the need for faith. Faith, after all, is trust. And we only need to trust when we don’t know what’s going to happen next.
God is trustworthy.