When disaster strikes, Americans run to God in heaps. According to a Lifeway Research survey conducted in May 2013 after the Oklahoma tornado tragedy, approximately six in 10 Americans (57 percent) agreed that they had a greater interest in God. Studies like this are useful and only confirm what we already know to be fact. During tragedies, masses flock to God. Communities gather for prayer rallies. Television programming, usually reserved for sitcoms, is transformed into special coverage highlighting vigils, ceremonies, and prayers ending in “the name of Jesus.”
The Trial of Adversity
Trials of adversity bring us to our knees and to our Comforter. I know this to be true in my own life. When troubles are many, my face is to the ground, my Bible is worn, and my prayers are overflowing. But what happens when when worries are few and life seems wonderful? I’d like to say that I’m still crying out to God daily with a similar passion. I’d like to say that I am reading Scripture with the same ferocity. But the truth is I do not. When I don’t feel my need, I can forget that God continues to be my every moment, every single day need regardless of my circumstance and how I feel.
The Trial of Prosperity
Everyone tends to forget God during times of prosperity. Hosea 13:6 says, “It was I who knew you in the wilderness, in the land of drought; but when they had grazed, they became full, they were filled, and their heart was lifted up; therefore they forgot me.” Their hearts were lifted but not to the Lord. So it is with us. We tend to worship ease, to become self-sufficient, and thus lack genuine prayer and worship. Trembling before the Lord and the mystery of His providence ceases. Thanksgiving becomes minimal. Complacency seeps into our hearts like a leaky faucet—eventually becoming a pool of self-absorption and laziness towards the Lord.
Prosperity can look different for all of us. For me it doesn’t mean a time of great wealth, it’s simply a time when not as much as usual is going on. There’s general peace in the home, perhaps my kids are doing well in obedience and my husband and I are enjoying a season of sweet conversations and time together. It doesn’t take much for my heart to become satisfied with my circumstances and forget that God is the giver of all good things (James 1:17). We aren’t thankful because we have forgotten the giver. We are self-sufficient because we’ve forgotten the provider of strength (Isaiah 40:29). It’s simply easier to forget our need when we aren’t being pressed.
Here’s the good news. God is the giver of all good things including the faith to follow him. If I ever desire God, ever, it’s only because he has done a work in my heart. In a video answering question 35 of the New City Catechism, which asks: “Since we are redeemed by grace alone, through faith alone, where does this faith come from?” Crawford Loritts explains:
“All of salvation, really, is of God. None of it is of ourselves. The Holy Spirit gives us new life and the Holy Spirit gives us the gift of faith. In Ephesians 2:1 the Apostle Paul tells us, we are dead in our trespasses and sin. There’s nothing we could do to give ourselves life and to give us the ability to believe, and the Spirit of God comes the moment of salvation and gives us new life. Down in verse 8 and 9 in Ephesians 2 we are told that by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God. God through His Holy Spirit gives us the gift to believe Him for our own salvation. He does it all for us.”
Why does this matter? Because if we remember our salvation and where our faith comes from and if we remember that all good things come from God and if we ask him, God will give us a heart of thanksgiving and worship during “good” times. The grace to believe and to obey and worship at all comes from him. And God will never allow us to be satisfied with anything in this world. This is great news for the Christian. So even when we forget him, he will remind us who he is, we can’t ignore him (Romans 1:20).
But even greater, we have his spirit and “he yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us” (James 4: 5). He won’t allow us to be complacent and apathetic for long because for those who are in Christ there will be something in our spirit that will convict and remind us of the Giver of life. And by His grace, which is abundant for you, we can turn to him in worship and give “thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20).
Trillia Newbell is a freelance journalist and writer. She wrote on faith and family for The Knoxville News-Sentinel, and serves as the Lead Editor of Karis, the Women’s Channel of CBMW. She guests post frequently at The Gospel Coalition and Desiring God. She is the author of United: Captured by God’s Vision for Diversity (Moody 2014). Her love and primary role is that of a wife and mother. She lives in Tennessee with her husband Thern and their two children. You can learn more about her via her sitewww.trillianewbell.com and follow her on twitter: @trillianewbell.