“The universe always balances things out.”
As I sat there watching the TV, I shook my head. Of course, I don’t expect perfect theology from every TV show I watch, but this line in particular seemed to stick out. It was not a hopeful line.
“Maybe it is hard for you to enjoy the sweet sunshine today because you fear a storm will come tomorrow.”
In fact, it was precisely because things were going well in the character’s life that he sensed trouble was probably right around the corner, that the universe was about to balance his good fortune. It stuck out to me not because it was an especially scandalous or shocking idea — in fact, just the opposite. Though the error rang loudly in my own ears, I knew how commonly people think this way, whether they realize it or not.
But not a week later, the shock did come. I heard an echo of the same sentiment, but this time it wasn’t coming from my TV screen, or from the mouth of a non-Christian friend. This time, it came from me. I was marveling over the blessings God had given me and how he answered longtime prayers in a big way. As I considered these blessings, my first thought was “I wonder what trial lies around the corner?”
When You Anticipate the Worst
It wasn’t exactly the same thinking as the character in that show, but it was similar nonetheless. I assumed that God needed to round out the blessings in my life with something hard, as though there were a limit to how many blessings he gives. As though there were a formula to how God works in my life. As though he were an impersonal God who gives out blessings and trials for no other reason than to keep the scales balanced.
I am an Eeyore by nature. I tend to see the dark side of things and assume the worst. I see the glass as half empty rather than half full. I tend to view God’s interactions with me as an angry father doling out punishment. And so it comes as no surprise that I would barely take the time to enjoy the gifts I’ve been given before I anticipate their being taken away.
But I don’t like living life that way. It sucks the joy right out of me. Not only that, but it’s wrong to think this way. It is inconsistent with who the Bible says God is, who we are to him, and how he works in our lives.
Perhaps you also tend to see the dark side of things. Maybe it is hard for you to enjoy the sweet sunshine today because you fear a storm will come tomorrow. When we find ourselves anticipating the worst, we need to remind ourselves of the truth. We need to transform our thinking through God’s word. Here are four ways the Bible describes how God relates to his children.
“In each and every moment of our lives, God gives us whatever we need to make us more like his Son.”
1. God Is Good
God is good and only does what is good (Psalm 25:8; 119:68). That is because he is holy, righteous, and just (Exodus 15:11). We can trust that whatever he gives us is not a random balancing of the scales, or a rash response to something we’ve done. He is not an impersonal God who merely works to even out the blessings in our life. Rather, he is the God who gave up every blessing in heaven to take on human flesh and live in this fallen world so that he could endure the worst suffering on our behalf. And by his blood shed for us, he gives us the greatest blessing of all: eternity with him.
2. God Gives Out of Grace
To those who trust in Jesus, everything God gives is an overflow of his grace, whether an answer to a prayer, a hard day, a dream come true, or a difficult trial. In each and every moment of our lives, God gives us whatever we need to make us more like his Son. In both the blessings and the trials, he is refining us and preparing us for eternity. There is a redemptive purpose behind every circumstance we encounter, and all is used for our good and his glory (Romans 5:3–5; 8:28–29; James 1:2–4; Titus 2:11–12).
3. God Is for Us
God is for us, not against us. He is for our good. He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4), prepared good works for us to complete (Ephesians 2:10), saved us while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8, 10), brought us from death to life through the Spirit (Romans 8:10; Ephesians 2:4–5), and enables us to walk in obedience (Philippians 2:13) — all abundant evidence that he is for us. And nothing and no one can stop the good he has for us. “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:31–32).
4. God Is Not Out to Punish Us
We don’t have to walk on eggshells or anxiously await inevitable punishment. All God’s wrath was poured out on Christ at the cross. For those who are united to Christ by faith, there is no wrath left (2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 5:9). In fact, for those who are in Christ, God loves us as much as he loves the Son (John 17:23).
“We can’t lump our circumstances into piles of good or bad. In Christ, everything God gives us is ultimately good.”
We are children of God, and as our Father, God gives us just what we need (Matthew 6:25–33). Any hardship or difficulty that might come our way is the discipline of a loving Father to his children for the purpose of training us in righteousness (Hebrews 12:5–11).
The truth is, there is no two-sided scale that must be balanced. We can’t lump our circumstances into a pile of good things or bad things. Because we are in Christ, everything God gives us is ultimately good. So, whether a blessing or a hardship lies ahead in your future, both are a gift of God’s grace and will serve to transform you into the image of his Son. This means, rather than anticipating the worst, we can always anticipate good from our good God.