Waiting on a Blessing
I know I'm not the only one who has petitioned God for something only to watch decades go by. Better yet, I've watched others (perhaps less deserving) receive the answers to my prayers - and I was obligated to celebrate with them.
My pastors and friends have always encouraged me to anticipate "great things" from God, but they haven't always cautioned me to manage my expectations. I heard future blessings were coming my way, but I had no clue how to wait. As a result, I've spent an unnecessary number of years frustrated, offended, and dealing with the consequences of impatience.
GOD'S ABOUT READY TO BLESS YOU
It's impossible to count the number of sermons, words of wisdom, knowledge, and prophecy I've heard with this tagline. The "blessings of God" is foundational to the American gospel. According to some preachers, no matter what you've done in the past, you're eligible to receive something from God once you surrender your life to Him. Oh, and you're eligible for an upgrade on that blessing if you give the right amount.
I will concede that when we affirm our commitment to Christ, many things may automatically fall into place. The promotion finally comes; infertility gives way to a healthy newborn; a relationship is restored; pain leaves the body; an impossible situation is suddenly resolved without explanation. These miracles are a testament to God's goodness and faithfulness, and we should be thankful. But we set ourselves up for disappointment when we continually interpret "blessings" through a lens of personal comfort.
For the record, I have nothing against ministers who are successful in marriage, family, finances, and influence. However, it's not helpful (and not necessarily biblical) to promise an entire congregation that God will do the exact same thing for everyone else. Although the Lord does not show favoritism (Rom. 2:11; Ja. 2:1-4), there are instances in Scripture where His sovereignty overrides the prayers of created beings (i.e. 2 Sam. 12).
CURSES vs. CONSEQUENCES
There's not enough time or space to delve into theological discussions on curses, but I want to provide one biblical account. In Deuteronomy 28, the Lord gives the Israelites a detailed list of blessings and curses before they enter the Promised Land. Starting in verse 15, we read how every curse is associated with disobedience. Essentially, a curse is the absence of God's favor or presence; it is the result of sin where no repentance has taken place.
This example also leads me to think about "generational curses." The idea here is that any spiritual, moral, financial, etc., conditions that exist in a bloodline are transferrable to every generation. If you or someone you know has been married several times, struggles with addiction, or is prone to violent outbursts - chances are other family members have battled these same issues. Of course, not every bad relationship, bad habit, or bad situation is a curse and we must take responsibility for our choices. Still, we can have confidence that blessings are greater than curses. And we live under a better covenant than the Israelites.
To say, "Everything happens for a reason," is a false statement. Many things in this life happen as a matter of consequence. If I blow my paycheck on junk and can't afford to pay my rent, I'm not cursed. I'm also not entitled to a financial miracle. Rather, I'm subject to the consequences of my actions. Sure, I can ask God for a bailout "blessing," but He has every right to say no. From a generational perspective, we may suffer at the hands of a parent or relative. Abuse survivors are never to blame for the wrong they've endured. However, God does require us to forgive them. We may even repent on their behalf. This doesn't make it right, but it will set you free.
ARE YOU ELIGIBLE FOR BLESSINGS?
To reiterate, seeking blessings from God is a good thing. Jesus said, "And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you" (Luke 11:9). First John 5:14-15 says, "Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him."
We can pray about anything, but we also need to be mature enough to accept "no" for an answer. Regardless of what our zealous spiritual leaders say, Scripture reveals that it is not God's will for everyone to have the same level of health, wealth, and success. Sure, "all things are possible with God" (Matt. 19:26), but the Savior did not say, "all things are guaranteed." Possible means blessings and miracles are always within God's power, but we must seek Him to know whether the thing we've asked for is within His will.
Waiting patiently is a lost concept in our instant gratification culture. Yet, many of us will wait a seemingly unfair amount of time before our prayers are answered. If you're petitioning God for marriage, don't be offended if 20 years of singlehood go by. If you want to start a business, don't be discouraged if the finances aren't immediately aligned. If there's sin in your past or present, repent and start afresh, but don't anticipate escaping all negative consequences. God's faithfulness is not a matter of meeting our expectations but of giving us everything we need to live a godly life (2 Pet. 1:3).
"Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord."