Sometimes I’m embarrassed by how blessed I feel. Yes, I‘ve known suffering, repeatedly, but all things considered I live a crazy wonderful life. Sometimes I want to sandbag and hide that reality because I feel I shouldn’t have it so good. Can you relate to this?
My friend John Notehelfer, himself a pastor of many decades, addresses this poignantly with a little help from Bonhoeffer:
So you are a leader, a missionary, a pastor – and life is very good to you, perhaps even too good. Are you embracing this present reality with thanksgiving, celebrating it, drinking in God’s goodness to you? Or do you feel somewhat embarrassed by such generosity??
I was challenged by Dietrich Bonhoeffer to process my honest feelings. He writes: “There are Christians who want to be more spiritual than God himself. They like to speak of struggle, renunciation, suffering, and the cross, but it is almost embarrassing for them that, while the Holy Scripture speaks of those things, it does not speak at all often enough about the good fortune of the pious, the well-being of the righteous (i.e. Psalm 119:1). They will probably then say that that is the OT and has been superseded.
The true reason for their embarrassment, however, lies in the fact that their hearts are too narrow to grasp the full kindness of God, to honor God also in the abundance of earthly gifts that he shares with those who live in his law.”
I detest, like many you no doubt do, the current focus on “wealth/health” theology –and the misappropriation of the biblical promises. But Bonhoeffer has a point, doesn’t he?
“It is not a sign of a strong and mature faith when this statement (the above reality of our own blessed circumstances) causes us embarrassment, when we say God has greater plans for us than to care for our well-being.” –
God has been good to me and our family – I do grasp the full kindness of God, but there are moments when I get embarrassed by it when looking at the circumstances/needs of some of my colleagues abroad and at home.
Prayerfully, John N