The Favor of the Lord…(it may not be what you think)

The other day I heard someone say that they prayed for a parking spot next to the mall entrance when it was raining and a minute later one opened up for them right next to the front door.  That person emphatically concluded that it was the favor of the Lord upon her that created that opening.  Now I don’t wish to allow my cynicism to diminish this testimony, but I did have to wonder if there were any other Christians who prayed for the same thing but ended up running through the rain from the ‘back forty’ to get to the mall entrance. Must be that God only had one favorite that day (Besides there are only so many spots next to the door…what is the Creator supposed to do?…sorry…I digress).

I believe this story is a small example of a flawed version of theology that equates the favor of the Lord with circumstances that are beneficial based on the individual’s frame of reference.  For example, if I pray for the favor of the Lord and obtain it, I will have all the money I need or I will get the relationship of my dreams.  If God gives me His favor, I will never get sick, my kids will never rebel, my clients will all love me, the dog will never throw up on my carpet, my grass will always be green….ad naseum and infinitum.  I have no problem with any of these circumstances, in fact, who wouldn’t desire to live on a perpetual  mountaintop of circumstantial bliss?  The problem though is that most of life is lived in the valley or the land somewhere between the mountaintop and the valley.  So if most of life is lived in the valley or the land in between, is God’s favor limited to our narrow definition of the perfect life or is there something missing in our understanding of His favor, it’s purpose and when we  experience it?

Let me say that I DO desire the favor of the Lord more than just about anything in my life.  But through my journey of following the Most High over the past twenty years and my study of the lives of the patriarchs who experienced His favor, I have concluded that what western Christianity defines as the ‘favor of the Lord’ and what the Bible defines as such, are often two very different things!

I love the biblical character Joseph.  I love him because he was a man of the highest moral character, he had destiny written all over his life AND the favor of God was upon him. But if we were to believe that the favor of God was synonymous with continuous positive circumstances then we would conclude that Joseph was a cursed man.  In spite of receiving prophetic dreams from God as a young man, he spent his latter teen years as a slave and his twenties as a prisoner in a foreign land.  And yet the Bible repeatedly reminds us…”The Lord was with Joseph”.  Ultimately God’s good purposes prevailed in Joseph’s life but it is clear that the favor of the Lord brought humiliation before exaltation.  I believe when Joseph received the dream, he was not the man who was ready to see its fulfillment…not until the refining fire of circumstances burned off the dross of a flawed character.  But God’s favor was upon him, even in the fire of difficult circumstances.

Look at every patriarch of the faith and you will see a similar theme…God was with them, His favor was upon them and this initially led them into places of isolation, difficulty and preparation long before they understood His ultimate good purposes. Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, Paul, Peter, Stephen and Jesus…all walked with the favor of the Lord upon their lives and all walked in places they would not have chosen but saw tremendous fruit manifest in and through their lives.  In the end, God was glorified, His Kingdom purposes were established and many came to know God and understand Him as the good and loving Father that He is.

So if you have been seeking the favor of the Lord and have found your circumstances of late have been less than ideal, be encouraged.  God is the God of the mountaintop, the valleys and the land between.  His favor is wherever He is.