Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Our Need for Hardships

We often wonder why God hasn’t been blessing us more, at least in the way that we want to be blessed. Well, perhaps the “blessing” is bad for us. Perhaps we can’t handle it. A recent article looked at what has happened to those who have had the “blessing” of hitting the Lotto:

  • Callie Rogers blew a 2003 U.K. lottery jackpot of $3 million on shopping, cocaine, friends and breast augmentation and told reporters two years ago she was working as a maid. William "Bud" Post squandered his 1988 Pennsylvania prize of more than $16 million on houses, vehicles and bad businesses before going bankrupt and serving time for firing a shotgun at a bill collector before his death in 2006.
  • Are these outcomes rare? A recent study of Florida lottery winners suggests no. Economists at the University of Kentucky, University of Pittsburgh and Vanderbilt University wanted to answer a public policy question: What happens when individuals in financial trouble are given large lump sums? So they collected data from nearly 35,000 winners of up to $150,000 in Florida's Fantasy 5 lottery from 1993 to 2002, and cross-referenced this information with state bankruptcy records.
  • Their findings, published last fall in The Review of Economics and Statistics, show that a big lottery score does little to reduce the likelihood of bankruptcy. More than 1,900 winners went bankrupt within five years. That number implies that 1% of Florida lottery players (winners and losers) go bankrupt in any given year, about double the rate for the broader population during the study period.
Before we point the accusing finger at God, perhaps it might be more realistic to humbly  reassess our indictments. Perhaps God knows better what we need than we do. This had even been the case for the Apostle Paul. He often prayed that God would remove an undisclosed physical ailment. However, Paul later learned that what he had regarded as a “curse” was really a blessing:

·        To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. (2 Cor. 12:7)

We tend to become conceited when things are going too well for us. This was even the case with Paul. But by the grace of God, he learned his lesson:

·        That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor. 12:10)

We too must learn to rejoice in our hardships. They too are part of God’s grace, however painful they may be.



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