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When God blesses others and not us

How do you react when God blesses others and not you? When a neighbouring church sees conversions and yours doesn't? Particularly if questions could be asked of both their theology and their practice?

The temptation is to be bitter. Or even try to belittle what's happening in order to make ourselves feel better.

In his commentary on Jonah, nineteenth century pastor Patrick Fairbairn counsels a better way:

"Whenever and wherever God is pleased to manifest of his grace and goodness, it is our part to acknowledge and rejoice in the manifestation.

It may possibly be done through instruments that we should not have expected to be peculiarly honoured, or in regions which are in a manner cut off from our sympathies and regards. That such showers of blessing should descend there, while scarcely a drop falls where our desires and efforts are mainly engaged, may often appear strange. It may even be felt to be mortifying, as if what were given to the one were somehow withheld from the other.

But this is to judge after the flesh. The Spirit of the Lord is not straitened, and what he bestows on one corner of the vineyard is not given at the expense of another. It is rather designed to awaken a desire and expectation for like gifts of grace, where they have not yet been received, and to give manifest proof to all of God’s infinite power and goodness.

If his eye, therefore, should be good toward any, far be it from us to cherish an evil eye. Let us rather view with thankfulness the benevolent working of his hand. What St Paul said of the preaching of the gospel at Rome, even by unworthy instruments, let us still more say of the goodness of God in the salvation of men wherever it appears, 'I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice'."

Jonah: his life, character and mission (Edinburgh, 1849)

Stephen Steele

Stephen Steele

Stephen is minister of Stranraer RP Church in Scotland. He is married to Carla and they have four children. He has an MA from Queen's University Belfast where his focus was on C19th Presbyterianism.

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