Recently I read in a “Dear Abby” column a letter that ran something like this: “Christian friends keep telling us we’ve been blessed by God because we both have wonderful jobs, our children are healthy, and we own a beautiful home. But they’re not blessings from God. We did it all by ourselves, by our own hard work, not because God blessed us. Would it be rude to tell them to stop saying we’re blessed by God and to quit praying for us?”

I admire people who work hard and take pride in their work. I’m glad that these parents delight in their children and find joy in building a home to nurture them.

However, the columnist’s answer was about what you’d expect. “Of course you should tell your Christian friends to shut up about their faith and to stop praying for you.” I disagree with the columnist. (Do you suppose that’s why I’ve never been asked to write an advice column for a newspaper?)

Wait! That successful couple said, “We did it all by ourselves?” Really? All by yourselves?

Did they choose what country they would be born into, whether ruled by a madman or in blessed America? Did they decide who their parents would be, assuring themselves good genes? Did they determine they would be born strong and healthy? Can they really protect their children from infectious diseases? Can they guarantee their home will never suffer from disaster, fire or flood, tornado or drought, theft or decay? Can they promise they’ll never experience an automobile accident? Are they sure their jobs will always be available, untouched by obsolescence or fraud or mistakes in management? Can they even guarantee themselves the essentials of life? Food? Shelter? Water and air?

The Apostle Paul asks, in First Corinthians 4:7, “What makes you better than anyone else? What do you have that God has not given you? And if all you have is from God, why boast as though you have accomplished something on your own?”

I wish this successful couple knew the loving God who created them to give them those treasures they so enjoy, simply because He loves them. James 1:17 says,

Every good gift and every perfect gift
is from above, and
comes down from the Father of lights,
with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

Every good gift comes from God, the holy One who never changes in His love and grace! Remember the Apostle Paul asked, “What do I have, that God hasn’t given me?” His answer? “Nothing! Absolutely nothing!” One day this couple will face a loss they cannot help. Hopefully they will come to see their desperate need for God’s help and turn to Him.

Meanwhile, may God help you and me never take for granted His awesome grace, His good and perfect gifts.

An afterthought: Why doesn’t this happy couple want their friends to pray for them? Could it be they are afraid there really is a God in Heaven to whom they are accountable?

A Word of Encouragement from Elizabeth Rice Handford