I believe that God is continually at work on me. Even when I don’t see it or feel it. One of the areas where I feel like He’s working on me, is simply trusting Him. Especially when I am STILL looking for consistent, full-time work. But what does having faith in God really mean? It might look different to different people. For some, trusting in God means completely and entirely believing that He will provide. Even when they do nothing to facilitate it.
Perhaps I need to have greater faith in God, and I am trying. But the rational, logical part of my mind bristles at people who trust in blind faith without working hard themselves. True, we do get lucky sometimes and have things go our way in the form of blessings. But not working hard to earn the life we want, and expecting God to constantly provide for us does not make sense to me. Plus it seems arrogant of people and insulting to God. Some people seem to treat Him like a “wish machine.” I have been guilty of doing this, but I am trying to get better at not doing it.
My personal beliefs on how faith works
This is my own personal perspective: I believe that while yes, we should have faith in God to bring us through tragedies and rough spots in life, He has also given us a brain and a body to figure out solutions to our problems. This is how I view both life and scientific discovery. God reveals solutions to us in time, but we need to work toward whatever those are. We need to be like Hansel and Gretel and follow where the trail of breadcrumbs leads us. God lays down breadcrumbs to many solutions in our own lives, and in general. And when he doesn’t? That’s where faith and patience should come come into play.
There have been many times where I have been stuck with seemingly no way out or forward. Through recovery after two surgeries on my legs, several times in my undergraduate years at Kent State, several times in graduate school at the University of Findlay, moving out of my parents’ house, and now trying to find work. And I recognize that God has brought me through those times. Either by lending me a hand by placing someone in my life to help me, or carrying me through completely.
A book titled How Being Consistent Changed Everything has really forced me to look at where I stand in my faith in God. I received that book when I was an intern at WXML Radio in Upper Sandusky, Ohio in the Summer of 2013. But I hadn’t read much of it until recently. Perhaps that’s because I really wasn’t sure of my beliefs on life, and I wanted to figure out what those were at a basic level, and then tackle bigger things like this. And while the people at the radio station were very nice and helpful, I was also very leery about evangelical Christianity. In some ways, I still am put off by how certain people approach me or their beliefs. God walks with all of us, and everyone’s path to Him is different. Being preached at always rubs me the wrong way. But I digress.
At the time, I was simply focused on getting done with the internship, learning a few skills, helping take the load off of the other employees at the station, and going back to Kent to party with my buddies that fall. I’m sure many young men in their early twenties think like that. But when I left my internship to head back to school, a very nice man named Jason DeZurik gave me that book in order to be encouraging. I still appreciate the gesture to this day. I don’t know what he is doing now. But at the time, he was an evangelical pastor who stopped by for a visit at WXML to promote a new radio show he was hosting.
Fast forward to now, in March of 2020, and I am searching. Searching for my life’s purpose. Searching for a job. Searching for love and companionship. And searching for my true faith and what that looks like. And so I brought Jason’s book along when I moved out. I thought it would be good for me and help strengthen my faith, and it has. He is genuinely encouraging and I love that. But it has also rubbed me the wrong way in some ways too.
My thoughts on the book so far
Jason recounts several stories where he, his wife and their six children are seemingly left with nothing to do but pray to God for deliverance from their problems. And lo and behold, every time they pray, someone provides milk, produce, other food, or money. While the stories he tells about a neighbor providing milk or other food from time to time are heartwarming and genuinely make me smile, I’ve gotten to the part of the book where he talks routinely about complete strangers providing him money. And I don’t care for it, to put it mildly. A thousand here for a car repair. A thousand there for his wife’s sixth pregnancy. And perhaps many other examples I’ll come across as I eventually finish the book. But those examples with money reek of something called the “Prosperity Gospel.” And it’s something I’ve always despised.
The Prosperity Gospel
For those who don’t know, the prosperity gospel basically means that the more someone is blessed with money, the more God looks favorably upon them, and that money or other worldly successes, is a result of strong faith. I call bullshit on that. Some of the poorest people in the world have strong faith and are blessed by God. Two examples I can think of off the top of my head are the first Christians (the disciples and followers who physically were in the company of Jesus), and Saint Teresa of Calcutta. Jesus also teaches us that money means nothing compared to faith in God when He tells the story of the rich man and the beggar named Lazarus. Lazarus ends up in Heaven with Abraham while the rich man suffers for eternity in Hell. You can read that parable here.
While I am sure Jason DeZurik and his family are good people, I know they’re not perfect. Just like the rest of us. Perhaps believing in these kinds of things is one of his flaws? Who knows?
I just take issue with his stories regarding complete strangers, or even people he might know, providing him decent-sized sums of money. And I especially have an ax to grind when he says that God “put it on their heart” to give the money to him. Something about that just seems phony, dishonest and wrong to me. I also don’t believe he’s telling the truth when he presents these kinds of stories. Did God really bless him with the money needed for his family’s medical bills and car repairs? I don’t know if God works like that. With the frequency at which these “minor miracles” happen, you’d think he was especially singled out by God! Perhaps he was and is. I just know for me, faith and money do not mix. Period.
I will continue reading Jason’s book. Perhaps by the end, my mood and thoughts will change. And if they don’t, I want to understand why they are that way. Whether it’s something I need to change in how I see God and the world. Or whether Jason truly is wrong for thinking that God works like this, with discernment coming through the Bible and what Jesus says on the subject. It’ll be interesting moving forward!