Dr. David Jeremiah is a well known evangelical pastor from California. Unlike many television preachers who preach for the cameras and the fame that comes with those cameras, Dr. Jeremiah's sermons are designed for his local church. The television audience just gets to tune in to see and hear his Bible based sermons aimed at his local church. I appreciate the fact that his sermons are Bible based and not the "send me your seed money and God will bless you" type.
I was fascinated by a particular sermon Dr. Jeremiah preached the other day. I watched it on television. It was about why disasters come into our lives if God is such a loving, powerful and good God. Dr. Jeremiah gave a number of good reasons, and it might be worth the time to look him up on the Internet and watch that sermon. The whole sermon was good, but the part that captured my attention the most was when Dr. Jeremiah asked: "Why would a person who refuses to worship God when he is healthy think God owes him a miracle when he is sick? Why should we appeal to a God we refuse to acknowledge when we are wealthy when we suddenly find ourselves in poverty? Why would we look for God's protection in times of disaster when we have not looked to Him in thanksgiving when things went well."
I thought those were great questions. I have been in the ministry since 1988 and in all of those years I have heard many unchurched people complain about how the Lord did not do for them what they wanted Him to do. They talk about some problem or struggle they experienced and how they prayed and asked God for a miracle, but God did not deliver in the way they asked. They conclude that since God did not answer their prayer the way they wanted Him to, He either does not exist or is not worthy of their worship. Their conclusion is based on a faulty premise, that God "owes" us something just because we ask.
I am a good parent, but I do not give my children everything they ask for. Sometimes it is because they are not yet ready for it. Sometimes it is because they do not deserve it. Sometimes it is because I have something better in mind. Though my children may not like my response, my response does not make me a bad parent, in fact, it reinforces just how good of a parent I am because I do what it best for my children even when they do not like it. Likewise, God is good. But His goodness does not obligate Him to give everyone what ever they ask for.
Think about it from this perspective, everything we get from God is a gift. The salvation that God made available to us through His Son Jesus Christ leaves us as debtors to Him. It is a debt we can never repay no matter how many good deeds we do. So even if we are the best Christian possible, God will never owe us a favor. How much less does God owe us if we are Christians who are not walking with Him? How much less does God owe us if we are not even Christians? A non-Christian who gets ONE prayer answered in their entire life should realize the great gift it is, from a God who owes them absolutely nothing.
This may not make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but good parents know when to make us feel warm and fuzzy and when to let us experience the hard knocks of life. God is the best parent of all. Let us look to Him with gratitude for anything He gives us. Let us thank Him in good times. Let us praise Him in times of Health. Let us honor Him in times of prosperity. Then when bad times come, let us remember that He owes us nothing, but if He chooses to give us something anyway, then it is an extra gift of grace that should indeed make us feel warm and fuzzy inside.