I think we as humans tragically equate blessings with God's favor and bad things/things not going well with His absence. Favor has nothing to do with God's nearness in my opinion. He is near to those that have nothing and are going nowhere. I believe in favor, however I also believe that as a general rule, life is not about favor, it's about leaning hard into Him Who gives and takes away. Just some random thoughts at the tips of my fingers.
Biblically there are some strong words about favor. One of which is most surprising to me, found in Job. You'll remember him; lost everything he owned, his three daughters and seven sons died in a tornado while attending a birthday party, he experienced personal physical suffering, (some of which involved painful sores from head to toe that he would scrape off with a piece of broken glass). So much scraping that it left him disfigured beyond recognition. Yet this man wrote, "I am weary of my life" and then just a few sentences later he says, "You have GRANTED ME life and FAVOR, and Your providence has preserved my spirit." (Job 10:1,12)
What? Are you kidding me? I don't know much, but I do know that I don't want the kind of "favor" Job was getting from on high at this point in his life! If we're honest, which I'm being right now, the kind of "favor" I'm talkin' about is found in Psalm 5. "You, Lord, will bless the righteous; as with a shield You will surround him with GOODWILL AND PLEASURE AND FAVOR." Yes please, where do I sign up??
But here's the thing, is it MY WORKS that bring on HIS FAVOR? At one time in my life I'm pretty sure I would have answered that with a nice little nod from my nice little Pharisee neck. But I'm not into that anymore because I think it turns us/me, (Christians) into works-driven, spiritually-stressed, ceaselessly-striving individuals. I cannot ATTAIN GOD'S FAVOR BY ANYTHING I DO.
And what a relief~WHAT A FREEDOM to walk in that.
To live in that.
To be okay with that.
To not carry that.
Things the Lord is working out in me. Less Striving, more trusting .
Less of me doing what I THINK IS GOOD IN GOD'S SIGHT and just allowing His love to lavish me and fill me. HIS LOVE IS FAVOR ENOUGH!!
"In Him we have redemption,
through His blood, the forgiveness of sins,
in accordance with the RICHES and GENEROSITY OF HIS GRACIOUS FAVOR." (Ephesians 1:7)
Of course, there are principals to follow and His commands are for our GOOD. But perhaps it's more of a sin issue then a favor issue. Sin separates. Sin is not favorable. I had some light shed on my heart the other week while at a meeting. You know the verse, "the wages of sin is death" and we always say, "God is out to get your sin" and "repent God is near to judge you" yada,yada. But it's SIN THAT KILLS, not God that kills. The wages of SIN is death, not the wages of God is death. We get in the way of our selves, by BEING OURSELVES. Doing stuff OUR way. Building the structure of our life with OUR inferior materials, 100% man-made.
"Yet He gives His UNDESERVED FAVOR to the low in rank, the humble, and the afflicted." Proverbs 3:34 If it wasn't culturally unacceptable/laughable I would name our child that; Undeserved Favor Stoltzfus!! Just so I would have to call it out 43 times each day, "Hey, Undeserved Favor come here."
I am blessed and highly favored BECAUSE I'M HIS. not because of what i do. A wise woman once told me "through the maze of life, God is the One writing the bigger story and God is more interested in the PROCESS than in the results." Watching MS, (multiple sclerosis) take over the life of my sweet friend Anna does not seem favorable in the least. And yet, the process of this has resulted in a beauty I never knew existed. Faith in living color.
As I scurry around her living room every other week; cleaning, straightening up, vacuuming, she sits in her blue chair watching Rachel Ray. Her love of cooking is alive and walking all over her home, though she be bound to a wheelchair all her waking moments, unable to even move her hands. Her husband graciously takes the recipes she sees and loves, and under her watchful eye, faithfully brings them to the small round dinner table in the corner of their kitchen. She speaks in broken sentences that I strain to understand, her very voice being scraped away, "people say I need to have more faith to be healed, but I say I have faith even when I'm not healed and THAT is true faith." Yes, Anna. You are the one with faith unshakable and full of GLORY. You are the FAVORED one and one day, YOU WILL BE LIFTED UP.
"O to grace how great a debtor
daily I'm constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee."