I’m guessing, as a mom, you’re pouring your heart and soul into this child or these children that God has given you, yes? And that you’d love for them to turn out ok? Or even amazing?
Sometimes people (even pastors) say things like, “just have faith” and “you’ve just gotta believe” and “claim it in Jesus’ name,” and THEN good things will happen to you. They teach that, “if you have enough faith,” God has amazing things waiting for you, just around the corner. Sometimes as moms, we can unknowingly take this false prosperity gospel and overlay it on our parenting.
Ironically, we can miss what this false teaching really means–
- IF THINGS GO WELL, YOU SHOULD THANK *YOU*— because YOU believed hard enough, fierce enough, deeply enough… you did enough. You faithed enough! Yay, you!!
- AND… IF THINGS GO POORLY, YOU SHOULD BLAME *YOU*— because YOU DIDN’T believe hard enough, fierce enough, deeply enough… you didn’t do enough. You faithed poorly. Boo, you!!
It’s the same new-agey message that came through in “The Secret”– as if the world is one big magnet, and what you put out, you will attract. On the contrary, when we look at people who had faith throughout the Bible, we get a markedly different story, y’all.
I’m here to tell you something different. Are you ready for it? It’s inconvenient, uncomfortable, and uncontrollable. But it’s true.
These things are proven true from biblical stories AND from the lives of godly people in the here and now:
If you have enough faith, you can:
- have your children turn away from God
- have your head cut off (by ISIS or Herod).
- be abandoned by your husband
- be single when you’d rather be married
- get unexplainable illnesses
- be married to a jerk
- be used and abused by all the men in your life
- constantly face enemies and battles on every side
- not be able to have children when you desperately want them
- have everything you’ve worked for fall apart
- have someone you love be murdered
- go to jail for your faith
- have children who turn to all sorts of sexual sin as their identity and joy, rather than to Christ
- face challenges of all sorts– beatings and shipwrecks, poverty and sickness
- be hated by the people around you
- have messy, impossible finances that never “right” themselves
- face true hunger and thirst
- have miscarriages and children who die at birth or after birth, or from diseases, accidents, or from their own crappy choices
- get cancer, STDs from an unfaithful spouse, or be blind/deaf/deformed (and NOT be physically healed)
- have your children grow up, turn away from you, and rise up to call you all sorts of things (ahem) other than “blessed”
These things are all true. They happened (and still happen) to those who are “faithful.” And there are just as bad (and worse) things that could also go on that list.
And we don’t hear this enough.
You can do everything “right” (psst, you really can’t– that’s why we all need Jesus– but you know what I mean), and these things can still happen. You can have heaps and heaps and heaps of faith in the true and living God and still have one or more of these things happen to you AND NOT HAVE “IT” GO AWAY.
In fact, the Savior we follow did absolutely everything right, and got rejected, betrayed, and crucified.
And He didn’t need the hard things in order to be holy. But we do. We need what we would never choose.
Instead of the “prosperity gospel” messages that lie to us, what we should take to heart is this:
“If you have enough faith, you might have even crappier things just around the corner. It could get harder before it gets better. And… truth be told, it might never (just looking at circumstances) seem to get better…”
But thankfully, it doesn’t stop there. You know what else will be true, right there in the midst of your cancer, prodigal child, and/or awful marriage?
- God will be with you.
- God will encourage you, strengthen you, correct you, and teach you from His Word.
- You will never be alone.
- You will have eternal joy awaiting you.
- He will give you everything you need.
- You will have the Body of Christ to lean on.
- You can pour out your hurts and fears to the One who always hears.
- You can know for certain that your Savior has been tempted in every way that you are tempted.
- Though every man be found a liar, every word of God will always be true.
- You can trust that your God, El Roi, sees everything.
- He can and will use everything in your life to make you look more and more like Jesus.
- You can look to Him and trust that eventually… even if it’s only fully seen in eternity… He will do what is right and just.
- He can give you the grace you need to “give thanks in all circumstances.”
- He is the God who takes broken ugliness and turns it into whole beauty.
- You can be confident that He will complete every work that He starts.
- His Spirit, at work in you, can give you joy, peace, self-control, and more– all that you need to get through anything He puts in your path.
- He will be enough.
- He gives, He takes, and His name is still greatly to be praised.
Ultimately, in life, if we have enough faith, God will use all the circumstances of our lives to teach us that:
- HE IS ENOUGH.
- HE IS OUR PEACE.
- HE IS GOOD (no matter what He gives or takes).
If we have enough faith, terrible things will still come, but God Himself will be with us in the storm.
And if He means to call our children to Himself, they, too, will be given His presence and grace in all of these ways.
If we have enough faith, it will not be a list of things He did for us that is most precious to us. No– when we see Him face to face in Heaven, if we have enough faith, it will be HIM– HIS face, HIS sweet salvation, HIS goodness, HIS purity, HIS presence– that brings us the greatest joy.
IN THE COMMENTS, PLEASE SHARE: How do you fight off the lies of “prosperity gospel” in your life? And particularly in how you view your children?
Image courtesy of the New York Public Library online collection
6 thoughts on ““If You Have Enough Faith…””
It’s such an important topic. Where we live in East Africa, the prosperity gospel has damaged so very many people; thankfully we are in a church which speaks clearly and biblically against this.
In my own life – as you said in your post, bad things happen. Our first child died in infancy, and even whilst we could clearly see God at work, the pain remains (and always will). We know many families who have faced similar trials, and several where young Christian husbands and fathers have died far too young. People have crippling illnesses. Fatal road accidents happen whilst people are doing the work of the gospel (some friends in Malawi were killed on the way back from a Christian conference a few years ago). Prosperity teaching simply cannot speak to these circumstances, but the sovereignty and wisdom of God is a great comfort. Look at the Apostle Paul, as he describes ‘light and momentary afflictions’ which actually seem extremely harsh. His eyes are on eternity, and on eternal peace, rest and glory.
Conversely, I see people who lead godless, selfish lives but where things appear to go ‘well’, at least in this life, at least superficially. Psalm 73 speaks to that beautifully.
It breaks my heart to hear how the prosperity gospel is ravaging the church in Africa.
It’s such a scourge… such an insidious lie. Sadly, the people it hurts most are the people who are already hurting the most. With the prosperity gospel, if you’re in a terrible situation, it’s your own dang fault. Believe more. “Oh, you’re trying? Well, clearly not enough. Cause if you just believe, all your problems will go away.” This message most hurts those who are already hurting the most. 🙁
What you said is where I lay my head too: “the sovereignty and wisdom of God is a great comfort.” Yes it is.
Good stuff Jess!!!
First of all I’m so thankful to hear your daughter is doing well. God is good all the time! Secondly I am thankful for you and this blog and look forward to your postings like I look forward to chocolate at the end of the day!!! Yelling is unfortunately my biggest struggle and I find myself in a constant spiritual battle over this. I know there is victory in Jesus! thank you for your encouragement and words of truth here.
I agree, it’s not about getting our way. If we can focus on something to appreciate, however, we may return our heart to peace. When I lose someone, I say, “Thank you for giving me the time I had with this person.” Yes, it still hurts. But in a different kind of way. Rather than feeling sorry for myself, I feel like I was super lucky for getting a chance to know my loved one.
I enjoyed your article! Thankfully the church I attend preaches the truth and not a ‘believe more’ message. Realizing it is all about Jesus and not the measure of my faith is so sweet and brings rest. Thank you for sharing your ups and downs of parenting and growing in Christ.