Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Don't Be Blue

The blessing of the LORD makes one rich,
and He adds no sorrow with it.
~Proverbs 10:22 (NKJV)

In the past two days, I've learned about two families who may to (or have already had to by now) give up the homes built for them by the popular ABC show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. You can read about these two situations via the following links:

A friend of mine (who found the second article) brought up some pointed observations, which I hope she does not mind my sharing here (if you do, let me know!):

Perhaps EM ought to modify its approach and build more modest homes which are still capable of accommodating the special needs of family members with disabilities. A large, trophy-like home is obviously going to consume more energy, not to mention the tax burden. It's easy to understand that a number of EM families might be deeply in debt for other reasons. Giving a large, elaborate home to deserving persons is a lovely gesture, but what exactly is the advantage if old debt and new financial burdens render the gift untenable? The problem is - who cares when the show is over?

I find myself wishing I had a 'wave a wand' sort of solution for these families and others in similar situations. And there are many, giving the mortgage crisis north of the Canadian border. Though as we all probably know at this point, there is no magic wand or speedy cure. It's often the search for such things that land us in trouble in the first place, unless we go about things God's way.

See the verse at the top? God doesn't add troubles and grief and sorrow and burdens to the riches He gives His kids. Granted, there are times when we think (or maybe not -- I can't speak for everyone!) He doesn't give us enough or that He waits to long or He doesn't give things in the way we would like Him too . . . but look back on what you know to be the blessings and riches of God in your life. Are you sadder for having had them? Properly looked after, did you find yourself in more trouble than you were at first? Do you ever wish you didn't have them?

Oh, please note the 'properly looked after' portion. Again, I can only speak from my experience, but there have been times when God has given me something and I've squandered it. But like the prodigal son, we can come before God, confess our misdeeds and be restored into right standing with Him. And (hallelujah!) we can ask for the ability, the wisdom to steward what we do have and will have in the future. God is faithful, people, and He won't mock you or look down on you for asking for help.

Another thing -- we so often think of the referred-to blessings in Proverbs 10:22 as equalling money to spend on big houses, cars, toys and such because they're making us 'rich'. But a closer look at the original Hebrew* meanings of the following words:

blessing: a blessing, benediction, benefit, favour, peace, invocation of good, a happy, or blessed man. It is used in the sense of a gift or present to gain goodwill. Also, it had the sense of shālōm welfare.

rich**: to accumulate, to grow, to become rich

So we can accumulate and grow in things beyond money. We can grow in peace, in goodwill, in favour, in benefits beyond the monetary. And again, when we do it God's way we can avoid this (also from the original Hebrew):

sorrow : it is a thing formed or shaped . . . labour, toil, gain; trouble, grievance; the kind of pain which women experience when they are about to give birth

What sort of riches do you want? Do I want? Can shows such as Extreme Makeover: Home Edition really give?

*As found in The Complete Word Study of the Old Testament, 1994 AMG Int'l Inc.; pp. 1594, 2307, 2351

**As found in Strong's Concise Dictionary of the Hebrew Bible (located in the back of The Complete Word Study of the Old Testament), p. 92

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