It was almost the end of June before Manatee County received any significant rain this year.
We had prayed for months, but when no rain came, I found myself becoming upset with God: “Lord, don’t You care that the plants and trees are drying up? The animals are parched? That my lawn is brown? Why won’t You send us rain?”
In the middle of that angry prayer, the Lord revealed to me that rain is a blessing, not an entitlement. And instead of getting angry with God in times of drought, we should pray that God send us the blessing of rain.
We humans tend to become angry when we are not receiving something to which we feel entitled. How often do we demand of others something we feel entitled to receive from them? Love, money, support, loyalty, companionship, service, time, etc.?
Are you an employer who feels entitled to the dedicated service of your employees because you pay them? Instead, you might try feeling blessed that you have faithful employees who are earning their paychecks. After all, it is hard to find skilled employees. So you are blessed, and you bless them in return.
Are you a husband who feels entitled to certain services from your wife in exchange for your financial support? Cooking, cleaning, laundry, even her paycheck? Or do you feel blessed that God has provided you with a loving partner, confidant, and loyal supporter? When you feel blessed, you tend to share freely, not expecting services in exchange for your support. If you feel entitled to your partner’s services, you are not in a loving relationship.
If you feel entitled to God’s blessings, you don’t understand the nature of a relationship with God. He gives freely to those who ask in His will, but He doesn’t give freely to those who demand that He give. I’ve heard preachers commanding God to act: to heal, to deliver, to bless. We can remind God what His Word says and proceed to act in accordance with that Word, but we can’t get angry with Him if He doesn’t answer as we believe He should. God’s promises are blessings, not entitlements. Believers are in a relationship with a Person, not with a set of religious rules and formulas that may be invoked on demand.
Imagine how unhappy a marriage would be lived that way: “Wife, I provide you with food and a roof over your head, now do your chores and earn your keep!” Marriage requires love and honor and respect. You love your wife whether or not she completes your “chore list.” You love God whether or not He brings you “rain in due season,” or heals your illness, or otherwise meets your expectations. If it is a true relationship, it holds together because of love, not entitlement.
And God does love you -- even if at times it seems He doesn’t, or at times He seems absent. Just as a good husband may at times seem emotionally distant or insensitive to your needs, if he loves and cares for you and is there for you, you have faith in the relationship. Likewise, you can have faith in the knowledge that God is a good God, that He loves you, and is caring for you and blessing you. He does hear your prayers, is not ignoring your needs, and will provide in His way and in His time.
The Rev. Anne Barber is pastor of My Father’s House, 7215 U.S. Highway 301 N., Ellenton. For more information, visit www.myfathershouseinc.com