With a hand on our shoulders the man looked into our eyes and said, “I see God’s favor on you.” “Ask Him what that means.” I had a sense that it didn’t mean what I thought, but quite honestly I was a bit confused. Today, years later, that conversation played again in my mind.
To look at the outside of our lives you would probably not consider us to be favored. The truth is many would wonder if we are even following God. The path we are on doesn’t look much like it. Nine months without work makes us look directionless. Would anyone think God’s hand is upon us? I doubt it.
People all around us are getting things easily while we wait. It leaves me with the question. What does it mean to have His favor on me? Is it about life working out as anticipated with ease, open doors, answered prayers, desires being fulfilled?
As I look at the lives of the ancients I see. Things didn’t often go smoothly. Joseph was sold as a slave, falsely accused, and imprisoned in a foreign country. David hid in caves, fearing for his life after he was anointed king. Did he wonder if he would ever become king? Did he feel favored while holed up in a dark, cold cave?
The angel told Mary she was highly favored but would anyone have called her favored once they looked into her journey?
A virgin, waiting for her wedding becomes pregnant. Having never been with a man, her only excuse is that the Spirit of God made her so. Did people believe her? Was she ridiculed, and falsely accused? Was she shunned?
Great with child she was forced to travel on a donkey to Bethlehem to fulfill the census. The timing couldn’t have been worse. Was she experiencing labor pains while riding along? Did she realize it was all to fulfill the prophecy foretold years before? Did she feel the favor of God then, I wonder?
Arriving in Bethlehem, the time of birth upon them, there was no bed to be found. She was offered a pile of hay in a stable filled with the stench of manure and animals. Did she feel provided for?
The baby was born, the angels declared the glory while the shepherds visited. Life began for their family of 3 in the humble means of a carpenter. No wealth for the King of Kings. Did they struggle to make ends meet?
As life settled down an angel appeared to tell them that the king was out to kill their son. Thousands of babies were murdered as they ran in the dark of night to a foreign country. Did she feel responsible? Was she afraid? Did she fear for their lives? Did she constantly look back to see if anyone was following them? What was life like in their new country? Did she fear walking out into the light of day? Did she feel alone? Did she wonder how the next meal would show up?
This one so highly favored watched her first-born be subjected to the most horrendous of circumstances. Her innocent son falsely accused was beaten mercilessly right before her eyes. She watched as the nails were driven into the hands and feet of her beloved boy. She watched her baby suffer and die at the hands of those who cursed him. Yet she was highly favored.
I haven’t understood the favor of God. I’ve often felt cursed and forgotten when the road didn’t turn in the direction I thought it would.
I am learning to look through different eyes these days.
It’s what happens on the inside of me during the times of uncertainty that tells the story. Favor is not found when all my dreams come true. Favor is the extravagant heart of God that moves heaven and earth to rescue me from the dark things that lurk in the crevices of my mind. Lies become exposed so that truth may be known.
It is the place where He reveals the benevolence of love that does not stop until I know the truth of His heart. Amidst a life of unpredictability I find myself discovering that He truly is enough. It is the growing pains of faith being stretched to new measures.
No, many would not want to walk through the circumstances I have walked. But maybe, just maybe if they took a look inside they would see the beauty of restoration that has made it all worth the while.
For there is a God who out of bountiful love pursues me until all that is broken finds its healing. He turns ashes into beauty while replacing garments of heaviness for praise. He adorns me with the robe of righteousness even on my worst day. In the uncertainties of life I find myself becoming a radiant jewel in His hands. I am beginning to understand the favor of God.
©copyrighted: 2011, Julie L. Todd