What do we do with the belief that God owes us protection and provision? I am not sure how the expectation originates in the Christian community, but I know that it exists.
It usually takes the form of, “Why is God allowing so much difficulty into my life? He said He would not give me more than I can handle. I am at my limit. Where is He?”
It might also take the form of, “God said he would meet all my needs. He knows that I need _____. I have been faithfully praying for it. Where is He? Why isn’t He answering my prayers?”
I do not take these questions lightly, and I hope you won’t either when some young believer asks you for answers. I believe there are answers that make sense. Let me take a stab at it.
I do not know how God makes decisions about physical protection. I am sure you have experienced miraculous protection from harm at times. Some of those times you are aware of, and some occurred in ways you will not know of till later.
I do know that there are also times when precious, caring, and loving followers of Jesus suffer or die for seemingly “senseless” reasons. They die in tragic ways, and they seem to die “before their time.”
I think some of our belief struggle occurs as a result of growing up in a culture of entitlement. When we have so much, or we can get it instantly because of a culture of easy/instant credit, we get used to having anything we want anytime we want it. If you experience that environment long enough, you begin to believe that you deserve things or are entitled to them.
Sometimes our struggle is based on our very limited view of the “bigger picture.” Have you heard this one? “The only survivor of a shipwreck washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him, and every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming. Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect him from the elements and to store his few possessions.
“But then one day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky. The worst had happened; everything was lost. He was stung with grief and anger. ‘God, how could you do this to me!’ he cried.
“Early the next day, however, he was awakened by the sound of a ship that was approaching the island. It had come to rescue him.
“‘How did you know I was here?’ asked the weary man of his rescuers.
“‘We saw your smoke signal,’ they replied.”
He does meet our needs.
God does not owe us anything. Interestingly, we owe Him everything. He has given us the opportunity for living eternally with Him. He has provided the opportunity for total and complete forgiveness for every wrong we have ever done or will do. He gives us the opportunity to be aware of the “bigger picture” and to be an active participant, side by side with Him, in its fulfillment.
Our challenge is to have an accurate understanding of God and how He does things. I think the even bigger challenge is to develop a belief that He always has our best interests at heartand trust Him to help us in the ways He knows are best for us, in the short and the long run.
He owes us nothing. We owe Him everything.