“I am blessed and highly favored.” I can’t tell you how often I hear this phrase. It seems that the current trend in Christian circles revolves around the topic of God’s favor in and on our lives. What it does for us, what it unlocks for us, how it will move all the obstacles in our life. Don’t believe me? Just go to YouTube and find a recent sermon from most any church and you will almost certainly find a sermon on God’s favor in your life. Go to the Christianity/Religion section in your local bookstore and you’ll find books with “FAVOR” in all caps staring you in the face. Or all you have to do is scroll through Facebook for about 9.2 seconds and you’ll find a picture quote from that random girl from High School talking about the favor of God in her life and how it’s brought her success and a problem free life. It’s not hard to find people talking about the favor of God… but, if we’re really honest, sometimes it’s really hard to see His favor our lives.
I have a friend who is going through one of the roughest years he’s ever had in his life. It seems that at every turn another piece of his life begins to crumble. No matter what he does, no matter how hard he prays or how hard he believes, the enemy continues to steal, kill and destroy his life. In a recent conversation with him, he simply said, “I know that the bible says I’m favored, but the truth is, after all I’ve gone through, I don’t feel favored.”
As I continued to listen to his story, I couldn’t blame him for saying this. How could he feel favored with all he’s gone through? I would have been crushed under the weight of what he’s carrying! The thing is, I know he’s not the only one who hears about the favor of God and then turns around only to get smacked in the face with another tragedy.
How can the couple who just lost another baby prematurely believe that God’s favor rests on their life? How can the wife who’s husband just left her for another woman know that God’s favor rests on her life? How does the teenage girl who’s classmates incessantly pick on her feel the favor of God on her life?
How can the favor of God truly be on our lives when we are surrounded by such pain and hardship?
It’s in moments like this that I’m thankful that we have the Word of God and that it contains stories of men and women who have gone before us that we can look to and learn from. I’m sure you’ve heard about or are at least vaguely familiar with Paul. If you’re not, Paul was arguably the greatest preacher and servant of God that we read about in the Bible. He was God’s chosen instrument, handpicked to jump-start the foundation of the early church. Paul wrote over half of the New Testament, and through him the early church grew exponentially. If there was ever a believer who would have God’s favor resting on their lives it would be this man. With God’s favor on him, he should be untouchable. He should be unbreakable! Nothing should be able to harm him or slow him down! His purpose would be easily attainable because God’s favor was on their life! He would only experience success and victory in their endeavours!
At least… that’s what you would think from all these Instagram posts about God’s favor… right?
If you know about the life of Paul then you know that this thought process is laughable. The truth is, Paul was beaten severely, he was shipwrecked, he was stoned (and not the kind you experienced in college). Paul was betrayed, he was whipped, and ultimately he was beheaded. Paul faced incredible difficulty in his ministry and in his life. The crazy thing is that all of this suffering took place during his ministry, while he was being faithful to God and while God’s favor rested on his life!
“But I thought God’s favor kept me from trouble?” “I thought it would keep me safe from all the enemy wanted to throw at me?” “I thought I could just forget about my haters because I have the favor of God on my life!”
In Acts 16:23-40 we can read about the story of Paul and Silas in prison. If you aren’t familiar with it, click on the link and then come back here… In this chapter we see Paul and Silas in the middle of trouble. They’re in prison… again. They’re in chains… again. They’re suffering… again. But even though they are facing trouble again, they give us an inside look at God’s favor.
At midnight, in the darkest part of their night, while they are praising God, the prison shakes and their chains are broken.
In the midst of their suffering, God’s favor shows up.
In the midst of their suffering, God’s favor frees them.
You see, I believe in the favor of God. I’ve witnessed it in my own life. There have been circumstances that should have kept me from where I am today, but it was God’s unfair favor that brought me through them. I’ve been in situations that should have crushed me but by the favor of God I made it through to the other side unharmed. There have been so many moments in my life that should have undone me, but somehow I made it through. It wasn’t luck, it wasn’t privilege. It was the same Acts 16 favor that found Paul and Silas in their chains that found me in my own and broke their hold on me.
The truth is, you are favored. Just read Romans 3:24. Or Isaiah 58:11. Or Psalm 5:12. The phrase “I am blessed and highly favored” isn’t just a cliche, it’s the God-honest truth. You are blessed, you are called, you are highly favored, you are anointed. You are a child of God.
But the reality of God’s favor is this.
The favor of God doesn’t keep us from suffering. God’s favor rescues us in our suffering.
So, if you’re suffering. If you’re in a place where you’re in chains again. Just praise Him. Thank Him for His favor on your life and watch as His favor finds you and pulls you from your chains. Our worship moves God to act, and when we praise Him he shows up in the most remarkable ways. You are blessed and highly favored, and it’s often in the midst of our suffering that we come face to face with that truth and that reality.
So when it’s midnight. Know that you’re in the right place to discover just how much favor really does rest on your life.