Some days I feel it more deeply than other days – the empty, achy feeling caused by the lack of something I’ve always wanted desperately, but cannot have. It doesn’t matter what it is; my point would apply to any heart’s desire denied. I’m sure I’m not the only person who has one of those. We just don’t get everything we want. I’m a grownup. I know this. I accept it. And I try every day to focus on other things and not think about it, because it breaks my heart a little bit when I do. Some days it’s easy, some days a little harder, some days impossible.
One of the things that makes it more difficult is to constantly hear (or read) other people who have this precious gift declaring enthusiastically that the REASON they have it is because God personally arranged for it to be that way for them. Yep, HE made the decision. He chose them personally and made it happen for them. They usually use the word “blessed.” (Please don’t misunderstand. The word isn’t the problem; the idea is. This just happens to be the word that is often used to express the idea.) It wasn’t luck or just the way life worked out for them. No, it was a deliberate act of God. They are THAT special.
I know they think they are just being grateful – “giving God the glory” as they say, and it has never once occurred to them that what they are saying could be hurtful to anyone. Indeed, most of them are good, kind people who wouldn’t be purposely hurtful to anyone on their worst day. But, if you just stop and think for half a minute, it isn’t really that difficult to see why it is indeed quite a hurtful thing to assert.
When I am assaulted with one of these “Look what God did for me!” raves, the response that often occurs to me is, “Wow, that’s great for you. I wish God loved me that much.” And no, I don’t really think that’s the reason. But that IS the logical conclusion if you combine their statement with my life, and we are talking about the same God. If I have to acknowledge that it isn’t God’s CHOICE for me to be lacking and hurting, then why must I accept that your good fortune IS His choice? And I do find it necessary to acknowledge the former – to believe that my lack and my pain is not his choice – because how much worse would it hurt to think there was someone claiming to love me and doing this to me on purpose? I can tell you from experience – It hurts SO much worse!
My vote (if I had one) would be for us to all admit that life just happens. Sometimes it goes your way and sometimes it doesn’t, and we can love and support each other through the ups and downs. Be thankful, yes. If you want to direct that thankfulness to God, consider doing it privately. And I will be happy for you. And I’ll always try to focus on the other good things in my life. Just please stop telling me that God specifically chose you to bless and me to ignore, because that is the essence of what you are saying. And it hurts.
Maybe you just can’t be talked out of the belief that every, single, tiny little thing that happens everywhere in the world is God-ordained, that there is no circumstance He lets take its own course. Maybe you honestly believe that God does good things for you and not for some others purposely—for His reasons which are not for us to understand. If I will accept that stance – just for argument’s sake – can you at least see how it is still rude to flaunt His decisions that favor you over others in front of those very others? You wouldn’t say to a starving person, “I am so blessed! God has provided plenty of food for me and my family” nor to the parent of a seriously ill child, “God is so good. He gave me healthy children.” Right? No, of course you wouldn’t. You would just be quietly thankful that you aren’t hungry and that your kids are okay (and maybe do something to help these less fortunate people if you are able.) So why is it acceptable to flaunt other “blessings” that not everyone has?
If this initially offends or angers you, or you think I’m just bitter or crazy and completely wrong, please sit with it a while and really think about it before landing solidly on that conclusion. I realize I’m criticizing a habit that most of us were brought up with from the cradle, and taught that it is the right thing to do, so it may be difficult to consider the possibility that it might just be wrong all over the place. But, it just might be.
(6 years later)
It is especially annoying, irritating, maddening, hurtful when your bragging about blessing is in regard to something/someone/some life circumstance that YOU WOULD NOT HAVE if not for the misfortune and lack of blessing in response to prayers of someone else, and it is done in a way that this person hears or sees the brag. Not cool. Bad form.
True story. Happened to me.
Related article by Scott Dannemiller:
Related article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/scott-dannemiller/christians-should-stop-saying_b_4868963.html
I struggle a lot lately, seems my whole world crashed and everyone else just climbed higher and higher. I take time now to ask God to hear my complaints, and I even admitted to Him a bit of jealousy for answering the prayers of my sister, but at the same time I was so grateful to Him for being merciful to her at a crucial time. It made me realise that He works to provide us with the things we need at the appropriate time. I believe steadfastly in seeing Him in all things and all experiences. I find it easier to be honest and open with Him about my feelings. It has really opened my eyes to how we view God, and has brought me peace in very trying times. When I feel I cannot take anymore hurt, and disappointment, I remember His great sacrifice for all our sakes. One day I had this feeling that I was so blessed, and I said God I don’t know what you have blessed me with but I thank you. Then I realised I was blessed because He loves me, not because I was given any material thing.
I apologize for not responding sooner. I don’t know how I missed your comment when you first left it, but I guess I did. I thank you for communicating with me about this.
I am glad you find comfort in your beliefs. I do not believe the same. I think life just happens. I don’t believe God “blesses” anyone nor withholds blessings from anyone. Sometimes things go our way and sometimes they don’t. From my point of view, after my experiences with so much faith-filled prayer ALL my life, since early childhood and well into adulthood – if God is really there listening and really all-powerful, then He does not care about me. It’s simple logic once one looks at all the evidence. So no, I don’t believe prayer accomplishes anything other than in the mind of the person praying. For some though, that comfort is enough. Not for me. If I’m depending only on myself to make my life better, I don’t have time to waste. (And for the record, the “thing” I refer to in this post that I want and can’t have is not a “material thing.”)
I hope that you continue to feel blessed and are happy and well.