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Surrounded with Favor
Photo: Jim Campbell
I couldn’t help crying when I recently read about the little Amish girls in Pennsylvania, USA, ruthlessly murdered in their schoolroom by a deranged stranger. The contrast between simple innocence and horrific evil was so stark, so shattering.

According to Jeremiah 29:11, God plans the best for humanity. And in the Psalms David declares, “For surely O Lord you bless the righteous. You surround them with your favor as with a shield” (Psalm 5:12). So what about all these things like random murders, natural disasters and ongoing wars? Of all the millions of people who are suffering and dying how many are “righteous”?

What does God’s favor and blessing truly mean? Long life? Riches? Health? Fame? A great job? A happy family life? An extended vacation in the islands?

Remember the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis? It didn’t seem like he was experiencing God’s favor as he sat alone in his prison cell day after miserable day. And what about Job? His story starts out by declaring that this man was totally blameless. Yet in one life-changing day he was basically wiped out. Does that sound like “being surrounded with favor as with a shield”?

The fact is that we all know someone -- someone really nice -- who is experiencing tough times. (Maybe that person is you.) Where is God’s promised blessing and favor?

God's Celestial Vision

Perhaps if we could see things through God’s celestial vision we would understand why God allows circumstances that we don’t consider blessings. Romans 8:28 assures us that all things work together for good. Often, it is in difficult times that our faith grows like a wild vine. We cling tenaciously to God, seeking His face. That’s a blessing. Our understanding of other people and ability to relate to them increases as a result of enduring hardships. Another blessing! Like Joseph, we are prepared for whatever work God has for us to do. Like Job, we prosper spiritually. We become focused on eternity, where we will be protected and shielded from evil forever.

The attitudes expressed by the Amish community after their tragic loss reveal their belief that “it was God’s plan and we’re going to have to pick up the pieces and keep going. A funeral to us is a much more important thing than the day of birth because we believe in the hereafter.” *

When someday they are looking back from the other side of time, seeing the end from the beginning, given their strong belief in the omniscience of God, would they truly want things any other way?

*Quote from Associated Press

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By Brenda Dickerson. Copyright © 2006 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®.

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