I was flipping through late-night television, because as previously stated, I like watching TV, when I happened upon Joel Osteen preaching to his humongous audience. I don’t pay much attention to JO, because I don’t like him. I lingered, though, to see how long it took for him to say something I didn’t agree with. I didn’t have to wait long. He was saying something about having faith in what you don’t see – I thought, hm, yeah, makes sense, backed up in scripture, etc. But that led to JO telling the congregation that this means they will get what they want. All their hopes and dreams will come true, because God gives good things to those who believe in him. Just pray to God everyday, he said, thanking him in advance that you’ll be rewarded with what you want. This sounds really nice, doesn’t it? God is going to give you everything you ask for! It would be so comfy to settle into this kind of belief; it’s so close to the truth and much easier. Speaking from experience and observation, God doesn’t always give what you ask for. Faith is not believing that your dreams will come true, it’s believing that God is giving you the best possible life in accordance with his plan, and that even if the things you want don’t come to you, the good things God has in store for you are really what you wanted all along and just didn’t know it. If you keep believing God is going to give you ice cream for breakfast every morning because you ask for it, you’re going to get disappointed. Your God is too small. Your God is a genie, and not a God. What cause would you have to worship someone who is just there to serve your every whim? Someone who doesn’t know any better than you? You (me!) who get mad when God doesn’t give you everything you ask, who are you (who am I) to know better than God? Are you (am I) the All-Knowing? The All-Seeing? The Inventor of the Universe?
I love the movie Bruce Almighty. It brilliantly illustrates what I’m talking about. Bruce is such a whiner. He feels like God has slighted him. He curses God, in a Jim Carrey way, for not giving him what he wants. So God (Morgan Freeman!) lets Bruce be God for a while – except he’s still Bruce. Gaffes and laughs ensue as he plays magic tricks with his powers and gets revenge on all those he feels have wronged him. He gets what he wants, a job as an anchorman. But he loses what he had, the good things he took for granted. Bruce is just a guy, and he makes a mess of his life when he tries to be God. God (Morgan Freeman) has one of my favorite movie lines, one of my favorite truths, “Since when does anybody know what they want?”
Being a Christian is not easy. It’s tough to trust in God and swallow your hissy fit when things don’t go your way – and trust me, things won’t always go your way, even with the Almighty on your side. Osteen didn’t quite get it right. Maybe he thought he was saying what people wanted to hear. That doesn’t mean it’s what people need to hear.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
2 Corinthians 4:16-18