This post was titled, "God's Favor." I am including the original question and the response that I gave.
18 June 2012 - Question
It's something we should all be familiar with hearing about especially those of us who grew up in the church. You've heard people mention how these wonderful things happened for them b/c they have "GOD's FAVOR".
So I wonder what exactly is God's Favor? How is it determined who receives God's favor? Do you think it's luck of the draw? Either you're born with it or not? Is it reserved for an elite few? If so, what happens to all the rest of us who don't have the favor of God? Do we just have to go about life living it however we see fit and just deal with the outcome?
I'm curious to know what you guys think of it.
12 July 2012 - My Response
I think that favor is two-fold. There is unmerited favor that you get, but may not necessarily deserve, and there is favor that you have gotten based on your actions/faith, etc. (which, still you may or may not deserve).
Within these two types of favor, I think there is also an element of how you look at and interpret "favor."
I was listening to an advice show online (Dr. Laura) earlier this week and there was a lady (Lisa) on there who had an incredible story.
Lisa was born to a prostitute mother and an unknown father. Her mom tried to abort her, but the abortion clinic would not allow it because she had already had 20 abortions prior. The lady survived utero (in the belly) beatings by her mom’s pimp, but was born healthy. While Lisa was a baby, her mom abandoned her (and the pimp). Her mom’s pimp left Lisa on the steps of one of his relatives, who didn’t really want her but raised her off-and-on until adulthood. Lisa told stories of how the relative would just put her out on the streets when she didn’t feel like being bothered and for much of her teenage years, she was homeless….sleeping in the band room at school or at friend’s houses whose parents felt bad for her.
In a strange twist of events, Lisa was smart…..very smart….and she found acceptance and validation in teachers who appreciated and praised her hard work. Lisa graduated salutatorian of her high school class and received scholarships and student loans to go away to college and support herself…..through graduate school. When she graduated her Master’s program, she got a top notch job as an aerospace engineer. She used the money she earned to get eye surgery (oh yeah…..she was also born, legally blind), get her own house and begin paying off her student loans.
Lisa called the radio show for two reasons.
1) She was recently put up for a promotion at her job, which required she get a top security clearance from the government. While all the background checks and tests were being performed, she found out that she had herpes, which she had from birth…..and was the cause of her previous eyesight issues. She had never had any outbreaks, so never knew she had this until these tests were performed. Ever since she found this out, all the old memories of her as a baby began flooding back to her and making her depressed. She didn’t know what to do?
2) While her job as an aerospace engineer was financially rewarding and had done well in making her a more balanced person, Lisa felt that she had a greater calling in life. She wasn’t exactly sure what she wanted to do, but knew it involved helping other people throughout the world to overcome (esp. in 3rd world countries) their hardships. Her issue was that she still had all these outstanding student loans to pay off and wasn’t sure what to do or how to transition into a whole new field.
Of course, Dr. Laura gave her advice and offered her encouragement and praise, but that is not the point of my story, so I will overlook the advice given. My point is to use this story to illustrate my point. Did Lisa have God’s favor or was she one of those people left out in the cold? Lisa had a very, very, very challenging life. More difficult than any of us have experienced.
However, she was alive, had all of her limbs, was intelligent, an overall good person and a survivor. Isn’t that God’s favor? Aren’t there people on respirators or people who can’t speak or comprehend what’s going on around them? What did Lisa or any of her absentee parents/family do to deserve this favor? What about those people she wants to help in the 3rd world countries? She’s way better off than them. Why was she able to escape those circumstances and be born in America, where she can create her own destiny, per se.? (Unmerited Favor)
Given her circumstances, Lisa could have easily given up on life. She, herself, could have decided to become a prostitute to support herself as a young teen. She could have drowned her problems with booze and drugs. However, she chose to work hard and survive. Had she done some of the aforementioned things, she could be dead now. She could have AIDS. She could be in jail or she could be sleeping on the streets. Instead, she has a good job, a nice home and clear eyesight. While, things could’ve turned out differently, her faith and actions helped to put her in a place where her life improved tremendously….and is a lot better than some of the people who were born with a silver spoon in their mouths and parents that pampered them until the very end. (somewhat Merited Favor)
The third part of this is the interpretation. Would you say that Lisa did not have God’s favor as a child because she went through all these things or would you say that it was part of God’s favor that chose her to go through all of these things, so that she could be used for his glory and have an impact on thousands of people? Perhaps she wouldn’t have gotten as far as she has gotten, if she had grown up in a functional family. Perhaps she would’ve been self-centered and not considered others and what they needed.....and no one would be saved.