When I was growing up my parents withheld important things from me that I know very well they could have provided.
I had a friend in high school whose parents gave him a older model sports car to learn to drive when he turned 14. When he turned 16, they gave him a new sports car. I sacked groceries and bought a 1980 Dodge Omni. I had friends whose parents did their homework for them. I had to skim my own books.
I had friends whose parents gave them everything. My parents didn’t. They made me grind out my own life.
It is my parents fault that I appreciated that stupid Dodge Omni. It is my parents fault that I earned my pitiful 3.3 GPA in high school. It is my parents fault that I appreciated every inch of progress I made. It is my parents’ fault I wasn’t afraid to take on a business that had “FAIL” written all over it and made it work. It is my parents’ fault I didn’t expect my life to be easy and I appreciate where I am.
I think that may be the key to the reason the Word-Faith (name it and claim it) kind of theology doesn’t work. If God is some kind of cosmic doting parent who passes out all of the good things in life to his children, we never become anything more than shells of men and women whose lives are as inspiring as another rich kid with a shiny car.
If having real faith means we get to avoid all of the difficulties of life and skate through with a brand new sports car, then I must not have real faith. It doesn’t fit with my reality or the reality I see in the lives of godly people around me. I see them fighting cancer, dealing with menacing financial issues, struggling with their marriages, drinking too much, and the list goes on and on. The people I see hold most tightly to a if-you-just-believe-god-will-give-you-a-sports-car theology are also the ones whose faith crumbles around their feet when trials do come.
Real faith emerges strong through the fire of testing. Strong faith comes the same way a strong marriage comes–by working through the difficult stuff. Appreciating the goodness of God is much sweeter when you have fought your way through the really bitter parts of life.
Maybe it is God’s fault that the dawn looks brighter when we have labored through the night. Maybe it is the moments when we cry out to God, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” that makes “He is risen,” resonate in our souls.