When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, no one can discover anything about their future.
When Life is Good
It is so easy to forget God when things are going well, isn’t it? In fact, David actually prayed that it was good that his soul was afflicted so that he wouldn’t forget his God and remember all of His goodness (Psalm 119:71). The tendency for me–and I would guess for you–is that when things are going well, we focus less on our reliance upon God than when things are not going so well for us. God actually shows His faithfulness when He afflicts us (Psalm 119:75) and when things are good. God reminded Israel that He humbled them when they were hungry in the wilderness (Deut. 8:3) but also warned them to be careful that when they were full and satisfied and had produce and wealth, their hearts might become filled with pride and they would forget their reliance on Him (Deut. 8:12-14).
The greatest risk of a fall is right after or during a great success. The history of the kings of Israel shows that when they became strong and prosperous, they drifted away from God. When we start to think we’re self-sufficient, we take our eyes off of God, perhaps looking at our own checkbooks. I speak from experience. I know many others who had learned this lesson the hard way. When the kings of Israel were blessed, they would often start looking at themselves differently. When David numbered the troops, God was angry because David was looking at his forces as something that he did and not God. He looked at it as his own work and may have stopped looking to God and relying upon Him and Him alone (1 Chron. 21:1-7).
I think one of the greatest sins of this nation, and at times one that I am guilty of, is a lack of thankfulness for God’s manifold blessings. It is just so easy to take God’s blessings for granted, and the sin of ingratitude (un-thankfulness) is one that sometimes causes God to withdraw some of His blessings. Why not bless God’s name and give Him thanks for being so kind to us? The temptation for all of us is that when things are going well, we are unthankful and we take God for granted. That is one of the sins that marks the beginning of the end times where Paul warns Timothy in his last letter that in the latter times, people will become lovers of self and of their money, boastful, scoffing at God, disobedient and disrespectful to their parents (regardless of their parent’s age), unholy, and, finally, unthankful (2 Tim. 3:2). Paul lists these grievous sins alongside ingratitude. This means that God must take this sin as seriously as the others. Self-sufficiency can lead to self-reliance, and self-reliance does little to make us still be reliant upon God.
A Closing Prayer
Oh Blessed Father, giver of all good things, please forgive me for the times in which I forget to thank You. When things are good, please help me to remember to still rely on You and show the world that I still and will always need You, and in Christ’s blessed name I pray.
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