So there I was, minding my own business, reading along in my daily devotional when – bam! – it hit me. I did not agree with the conclusions drawn by Joseph Prince about the scriptures.
I should mention this is not the first time Pastor Prince and I have disagreed. Oh no. I started this devotional with Zac back in February (yes, I am a slacker) so we could read on our own and discuss what was said, get deeper into topics of faith. So far, he’s managed to be wrong at least 2 other times. Joseph Prince, that is.
It was day 230. The topic: Why bad things happen to good people, or something to that effect. Joseph Prince, like many others of his bent including Joel Osborne, contain a heavy influence of Norman Vincent Peale. I like Norman. But don’t spray Norman on people when they’re down and out. Not fair.
This devotional said, in a nutshell, that if bad things happen to you and you’re a Christian, you didn’t believe enough. You didn’t have a good enough “faith confession”. God didn’t protect you from losing your job because you didn’t do your part.
Several years ago, I heard a sermon along these lines. The pastor talked about Christians being inside a “bubble” of God’s sovereign protection. Pregnant with Ruby, I got so angry I almost left. He went on to say that nothing bad will happen to you, like you live a charmed life once Jesus lives in your heart. “No!” I wanted to scream. “It doesn’t!”
That is crap, pure and simple. Oh, it’s wrapped in pretty shiny paper of God’s protection and scriptures like Ps. 91. Yes, I believe in God’s protection. I know it firsthand. I mentioned the earthquake of 1989, but there have been many times where I know He watched over me.
But if nothing really bad should happen to you if you’re a Christian, then what about losing a child? I’ve known several couples who have lost babies before they’re ever born. Did they screw up? Should they have been memorizing the Bible in order to safeguard their child? And those who pass through the valley of bankruptcy, divorce, adultery, disease? What of them?
Taking it further, what about Joseph? The many-colored coat boy from Genesis, papa’s favorite, who got thrown in a pit and sold into slavery. What should he have done different to save him from his horrible life of servitude? And to the max, should Jesus have been crucified? Couldn’t he have just sent a heavenly pardon down, an etched golden fleece or something?
This is where wisdom enters the room. You may have brought bad things on yourself by poor choices. No mystery there. If you’re driving while intoxicated, you could crash and cause yourself and others harm. So, yes, examine yourself. Eating poorly and not exercising can lead to disease. Not paying your mortgage leads to foreclosure. But don’t take on the condemnation of idiots if calamity strikes. The rain falls on the just and the unjust. The just collect the water in rain barrels to water their gardens.
Without his term of slavery, would Joseph have become the great administrator, Pharoah’s right hand man? He learned on the job. Without the pain in our lives – and sometimes they are great, great pains – would we know joy, forgiveness and peace? Without Jesus’ death on the cross, how would we ever reach the Father?
I have to come back to the immensity of God’s love for me, couched squarely in His sovereignty. I am not in control. But I know the one who is.