In Spite of Everything, God still Deserves the Thanks and Praise

I had a very interesting conversation with a client this morning.  I should say, he talked, and, for a change, I listened.  From his take on Nationalized health care, I got the feeling that he leans a little farther left on the political meter.  However, what he said were some pretty valid arguments.  He wasn’t so much for Obamacare as for going full single-payer, government-provided healthcare, with everyone paying in and every covered.  Of course, this is what Obamacare completely fails to do, which is why it is a failure of its own agenda.

My client is a very bright, articulate person.  He has personal experience with catastrophic illness.  He also has a lot of views in common with me about food choices and the over-prescription of drugs.  And, maybe, he has a valid point.  If we are going to go socialist, why only go half-way and have all the headaches with none of the benefits?  I, of course, would counter that, if we really were a pay-as-you-go medical climate, catastrophic illnesses would still be within the realm of the average wage-earner (sans all the other socialist drains on his pocket book) to overcome.  No, wouldn’t be easy.  Yes, some with pre-existing conditions would be hard-hit.  But even they would be within the realm of the average family to care for (sans, again, all the other socialist drains on the pocket book).  Of course, the real buggaboo about Obamacare is that it is exactly, as feared, the leap from private to public insurance.  During the leap, millions aren’t going to clear the chasm.  In essence, we are shifting the casualties from from set of poor (welfare and subsidized poor) to a new set of poor (bankrupted by Obamacare working/formerly working poor).

So, what does all this have to do with thanksgiving?  Well, for starters, both men in the conversation today are alive and well.  Both of us are (for the moment) gainfully employed.  Neither of us felt inclined to worry about our health, even though one sustained a massive heart attack and the other has been without insurance for thirteen years.  His theory is that all praise should go to the almighty government.  My take is that is should go to God.

Over the past year, the bottom has fallen out from under me so many times, I feel like I live my days without pants.  But, every crisis that would ruin me has met with a just-in-time solution.  Some people might praise me for my work ethic and ingenuity to dig myself out of such a hole.  But I know better.  I’ve been out of control.  By that I don’t mean crazy and destructive, I mean not in control.  Whenever I can’t see the answers, then I talk to God and say, “you have the answers, so I’ll have to trust that you’ll give them to me.”

As one journeys through the Old Testament of the Bible, one sees this recurring truth about the nation of Israel.   When they trusted God to control their destiny, they succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.  When they tried to run things without God, they failed miserably.  But God, being gracious, never allowed them to fail completely.  He only allowed them to see the folly of their ways, and then he would restore them to prosperity when they turned back to him.

As one looks at the growth of the Christian church, it becomes obvious that persecution created a strong church that exploded in population.  During persecution, there are no couch potatoes.  Everyone has skin in the game.  Even today, we see that the church is exploding in the places where none of us would want to be a Christian–Pakistan, Iran, North Africa, China–because being a Christian in those countries means staking your life on it.  That’s just not what we’re about in comfy America.  Here, it’s trouble to go to church if they are out of the particular lattes that we prefer, or it’s not our preferred worship leader, or if it means that we might be late for opening kick-off.

OK, maybe we are going to have nationalized health care.  And maybe that’s another nail in the coffin of free enterprise.  But we still live in the most blessed time of history.  We still have a lot farther to fall to return to the oppression of past ages.  I hope we never get there.  But I know that the same God who was there to preserve his people from the Assyrians and Persians is the same God who is going to preserve his people today.  No, he doesn’t promise the road will always be smooth.  In fact, he tells us that he lets us suffer because he loves us.  He knows that the only way to refine us is by fire, and he loves us too much to leave us unrefined.  So, no matter what political winds blow, no matter what economic hardships ensue, we know that, for us, it’s all good, because God has our end game planned out already.

I’m going home tomorrow to eat turkey with the family, watch a little TV, and rejoice over how good I have it in this country, in this time.  And I’m going to rejoice along with the pastor in the Iranian prison, and the Ethiopians and Jakartans who are needing to rebuild their destroyed church, and the Pakistani Christians whose children who are forced into slavery.  All of these have been considered worthy of suffering for the Name.  And they shall have their eternal reward.  Thanks be to God.

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