Last Wednesday I had the opportunity to do a Q&A with The Loft, the student ministry of our congregation. I really enjoyed hearing their questions and offering them my best understanding of how to answer those questions using scripture. While several questions stand out in my mind, one reminded me of a question I’ve often heard asked. To put it simply, I was asked, “why does it sometimes seem like those who have faith sometimes suffer while those without faith have so much in this world?”
When my mom was a little girl, she didn’t have much from a material point of view. One day, after seeing how affluent one of her classmates was she asked her mom, “why do they have so much when they don’t even go to church?” In her young mind, it was as though God was blessing them for a lack of faith.
This is a question as old as Scripture. In Psalm 49:5-7, 16-20 (CEB) shows us,
“Why should I fear in times of trouble?
The iniquity of my foes surrounds me.
They trust in their wealth
and boast of their abundant riches.
Yet these cannot redeem a person
or pay his ransom to God…
Do not be afraid when a person gets rich,
when the wealth of his house increases.
For when he dies, he will take nothing at all;
his wealth will not follow him down.
Though he blesses himself during his lifetime —
and you are acclaimed when you do well for yourself —
he will go to the generation of his fathers;
they will never see the light.
Mankind, with his assets,
but without understanding,
is like the animals that perish.”
My grandmother Pauline drew on this Biblical wisdom when she answered my mom. She said, “honey, without God, this world is all they have…” The truth is, no matter how much wealth or prosperity we experience in this world, if we don’t have a deep relationship with God (what the Psalmist here calls understanding), we are missing out on the one thing that matters most.
Faith in God through Christ transcends this life and leads to eternal blessing and infinite happiness and joy. We must always remember, no matter how much we may prosper in this life, knowledge of God is infinitely greater value than money or success.
With that in mind, how should we prioritize our lives? I believe we should make our relationship with God an absolute priority. Every second we invest in learning about God through his Word, every second we spend deepening our relationship with God through prayer, and every moment we spend in worship are never a waste. Instead, they are eternal investments that shape not only our experience of this world, but that lead to the everlasting blessing that awaits us in the world to come!