Thursday, May 08, 2008

"I'm Claiming This Verse as God's Promise to Me"

I recently had a friend here whose husband is currently unemployed. They have seven children and are really struggling and praying for him to get a job.

In the course of the conversation she mentioned something from the Bible and told me that she was claiming this verse about God wanting men to work and to find satisfaction in their work as a promise to her about her husband's situation.

And I've been thinking about that. For quite some time now I've wondered if this way of approaching the Bible is maybe.....pretty screwed up.

If we are reading along in the Bible, which is basically an ancient book full of stories, does it make sense that we just start plucking out the parts that we like and then try to twist God's arm behind His back with "claiming this verse as a promise to me."

I'm a parent. If one day I took my child out on some errands and ended up buying him a treat, and later another one of my children finds out about this, can they get away with blackmailing me in order to get the same treat? Have I created a precedent that I am now obligated to? I don't think so.

It's not that I like one kid more than another. It's more like: maybe I had some extra money or extra time the day that I got the first kid a treat. Maybe the second kid isn't going to get a treat because we're in a hurry, or that kid is already going someplace later that night that will have some sort of treat. Whatever the reason might be--I don't think I have to do the same exact thing for each kid. I'm fair. But I don't always give equally.

I suspect it's the same with God.

I know I've heard dozens (or more) stories from people with cancer (or with loved ones with cancer) that were claiming God as their healer up one side and down the other. They can come up with verses ten miles long to support their belief that God is actually obligated to heal them because of supposed promises in the Bible. In almost every one of these cases the person with cancer dies. So it seems like we have a short multiple choice list of possibilities:

A. God doesn't keep His promises
B. God never promised us what we think He did
C. Other

I thought about asking my friend about her belief that she could just go claiming random stuff in the Bible as a specific promise that she could latch onto, but I quickly realized that this would just come across as a harsh challenge to a belief that is giving her some sort of comfort and strength. Even if I don't really agree with her, neither do I want to take that away from her.

So instead I toss this out into cyberspace. I was going to ask what you think. And you can tell me, if you want to. I think I've already come to my own conclusions, though.


B said...

God *does* keep His promises though. What promises has He broken? :)

Like a parent, he sometimes gives us what we want, says "no" or he makes us wait.

:) God is good, all the time, he never changes. :)

Yes, I agree that we as humans can take scriptures out of context. But like today, I was struggling with something and I found Psalm 51. This verse has to do with David and Bathsheba and David asking help from God. So, I read that scripture today, and when I read it, it spoke to me, and it is the scripture that I can focus on today to get me through some struggles that my hubby and I are having. :) I feel that it was a gift that God put there for me to have hope.

Have you ever read any of Becky Tirabassi's books about prayer? She's really great at teaching one to read the Bible and teaching one how to pray. Though I don't have it down like she does (far from it), it has taught me a lot.

Your friend,

Dollymama said...

Hey B,

What I'm saying is that, I think we sometimes pretend that God promised us stuff that He didn't. (example: healing. A lot of people think God promises to heal us of all sickness and disease, but it doesn't happen often, and rarely does a healing happen that can't also be attributed to something else being done to bring about the body's healing.)

With your situation today, I can see that it would make sense to find something in the Bible that you can identify with, and hope or pray that God would do the same for you. What I'm saying is that just because God did something for David that is written about in Psalms doesn't mean that it is a **promise**. Hope I can understand. Promise seems like twisting God's story.