That is what we grew up trusting, that and hard work. If you need more, simply work harder. Give more, be more, know more. As I was growing up I do not remember ever seeing any adult praying for a financial need, did you?
I found out we could pray for any sort of need when my first child was an infant and he needed healing. Prior to that I felt alone in my pain. I had learned to take care of myself and comfort myself. I was doing my best to “buck up”.
We learn self-reliance. We think it is our only option. Our society applauds the “self-made man”, the winner. We learn to take, and to grab, and to compete. We resent others who achieve more, and we look down on those who have less. We learn that to be independent is to be strong. But it is an illusion. God says his strength is perfected in our weakness.
Oh, he lets us try it our way. He lets us do our best. Go for it and knock ourselves out. But is it our hard work and effort that makes God happy with us? So if we sacrifice ourselves more can we actually save ourselves?
Think about it. Can we ever provide all that we need? Can we rise to the place that we don’t need God? Should we try?
It is not much different than Adam and Eve. God gave them everything and met their every need. And they had the freedom to pursue their passions. They did not have to work for food, shelter, or security. They “worked” at their passions. They could create and make art and music and build things. They could explore their world and each other. They could get to know God and learn from him. They were to fill the earth with their family. They were to be kings of the earth. The animals were tame and obeyed them. The weather was not hostel. They could build homes and cities and amphitheaters. Whatever they felt like doing. They were not chained to a job.
How different from the way we live under the curse. The curse that said the earth will not naturally provide for you anymore. We were sentenced to hard labor. "By the sweat of your brow you will eat". It begins to crowd out our time with family and friends and our passions, and even God. Why? Because Adam and Eve did not trust God’s love and provision for them. They believed God’s enemy. They wanted more. They wanted to be their own Gods. They made their own decision with the reasoning of their minds. Even though God said not to do something, it seemed ok to them, so they went ahead. Then God said have it your way and he took his blessings and disappeared, literally.
Well, we know that in his mercy he did not take all of his blessings away. And he has been reaching out to us throughout the ages. He is the one offering us a way back… a way to balance and peace, with our trust in God and nothing else.
So if it is not hard work to the point of sacrifice that pleases God, what does?
Faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God. Our real job is to hear God’s voice in this lost world - to get to know him and to put him first in our lives. Jesus has sent the Holy Spirit to make it possible for us to do it. This is one of the ways he has set the captives free. His yoke is easy and his burden is light. Matthew 11:29 … Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.