I almost didn’t apply to graduate school because I knew I couldn’t afford it. But instead of stressing myself out prematurely, I decided to apply anyway and figured that I would worry about the money when USC started asking for it. I assumed that He would provide the funds since He was the one who got me in. Sounds reasonable, right?
I started telling everyone that I was expecting God to miraculously provide me with $50,000, thinking that I could trap Him into showing up in order to save face. For months, I woke up early to pray and even fasted sporadically, but still no response. On the night before classes started, He finally answered my prayer with a simple statement: I don’t owe you.
What do You mean You don’t owe me?
I have been putting in work for the Kingdom for almost two years now. I have sacrificed job opportunities, romantic relationships, and countless hours of sleep in order to do the will of God. And on top of that, I willingly considered all these things a loss, only complaining once or twice a day. I noticed that as I continued to do His work, things started coming together. My blog blew up, I established solid friendships, and I won a car! Whenever people asked me why everything always seemed to work out for me, I pointed them straight to the cross. I attributed all glory to God and I meant it, or at least I thought I did.
I’ve always known that God was responsible for my success, but at some point I started believing that His blessings were associated with my good deeds. Once I started profiting off of my walk with God, my intentions changed. I started sowing in order to reap, not realizing that God wasn’t interested in my deeds unless my heart was in it. I started taking pride in the fact that I was living righteously and believed that worldly success was indicative of a thriving relationship with God. Whenever I noticed that a friend was struggling, I assumed that they weren’t seeking God hard enough. But this line of thinking couldn’t be further from the truth.
God Guarantees Hardship
If the Bible is clear about anything, it’s that following God isn’t easy. God allowed my full-ride prayers to go unanswered all summer in order to prove a fundamental point: this walk has never been about the benefits. Before allowing anyone to become a disciple, Jesus ensured that they knew exactly what they were signing up for—suffering and radical sacrifice. (Luke 9:57-62)
7 When a servant comes in from plowing or taking care of sheep, does his master say, ‘Come in and eat with me’? 8 No, he says, ‘Prepare my meal, put on your apron, and serve me while I eat. Then you can eat later.’9 And does the master thank the servant for doing what he was told to do? Of course not. 10 In the same way, when you obey me you should say, ‘We are unworthy servants who have simply done our duty.’ –Luke 17:7-10
In a world of instant likes and direct deposits, delayed gratification is virtually unheard of. For some believers, it can be difficult to fathom a life of servitude with no guaranteed reward other than eternal life. For mature believers, this is old news. Luke 11:5-13 encourages us to be bold and persistent in our requests to God, but never does scripture authorize us to give God ultimatums. While there is nothing wrong with believing God for a miracle, it is extremely dangerous to develop a sense of entitlement.
The material things that God does choose to bless some people with are intended for His glory, not ours. Truly humbling yourself means submitting to His will even if your miracle isn’t included in it, especially if it isn’t.