The Unintended Double-Edged Sword

Proclaiming God’s favor can be a double-edged sword. I’ve heard the creeping theology of prosperity in the averted tragedies of others. They spill wonder-filled, mystical stories, recounting God’s graciousness in piecing together the impossible jig-saw puzzles of life.

It’s a familiar story. We've all heard it.

My son was sick and hopelessly so. A miracle of providence brought us to a particular doctor who knew just the right answer. God orchestrated every move, ordained the whole thing to bring healing, and ultimately greater glory. God will bring you an answer in good time.

If you listen carefully, if you follow the logic, you will see it. God’s favor associated with the outcome. Perhaps that’s comfort to the healed and their families. Perhaps it’s a good story for the Sunday morning meeting. But one man’s salve is another man’s sore.

What if God fails to orchestrate the proper cure at the proper time? What if he stands to the side, seemingly idle, while the innocent go to the grave? What if the proper providential miracle is conspicuously absent? Does that mean that God was absent, that his hand was too short to save?

A word of caution to the would be story tellers: prosperity does not necessarily implicate providence, nor does it always bring comfort. Sometimes, the providence is in the pain.

How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorry in my heart all the day? … But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me. ~Psalm 13:2, 5-6

*Photo by FaceMePLS; used under Creative Commons license.