A compelling doctrine cruelly hijacked my life, taking advantage of the desperation known by all too many parents. It was reiterated over and over again that God was going to completely heal my son Andrew, that all I had to do was walk in the authority given to me – the “favor” of God, and that my son Andrew would be healed.
Don’t get me wrong, when God has specifically told me to pray, I have seen miracles. It hasn’t been a lack of faith or a lack of prayer or a lack of obedience holding back the miracles. That’s the easy answer you hear from people who don’t have challenges to walk through, people who are not being given lives that teach them how to endure hardship. Really, I am not interested in the opinions of people with easy lives – they all too often presume that their “blessed” status is some sign of favor even in light of the fact that every great servant of God has endured terrible ordeals as they are prepared for service.
We learn nothing from an easy life, and we certainly have no proof that we are loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good faithful, gentle and self-controlled if no great crisis ever puts those attributes to the test. As Messiah said, even tax collectors and sinners are good to those who are good to them.
The idea that God was waiting in the wings to heal my son if I would just “walk in my authority” was a crippling one – it absolutely put my life on hold. You see, we can live our lives in one of two ways – we can live in the future where everything is fixed, or we can learn to have good fruit by enduring in the now. The presumption that God has an obligation to heal my son, and the faith that He will do it because He somehow owes it to me if I meet this sort of magical combination of requirements isn’t faith at all – it’s committing Him to fulfilling my will. I have lived not with an awareness of His mercy, but with an expectation that He is going to fix problems that I am tired of coping with.
That’s a problem, and its conveniently arrogant. Not only that, but it completely disregards the Scriptural fact that God’s servants often live with terrible trials that don’t just go away quickly and sometimes they are, in fact, fatal. Name it and claim it is not a way to live – looking at our challenges square in the eye and embracing those challenges as a way to refine us – that is where the true blessing lies. Everything in our life has the capacity to change us, but we want it all to be swept away – we want our circumstances to change while we stay as we are. God loves us too much to do that to us.
Being Andrew’s mom has taught me about love, mercy and compassion. I am learning endurance, and about how to live in a real world where sometimes the frustration and shame hit me so hard that I feel like I am drowning. I have learned that a person’s outside circumstances don’t define who they are in God’s eyes or God’s plans. I know that the difference between financial wealth and poverty are often related to nothing more than the health of a family member.
Name it and claim it theology taught me to be unsatisfied and ungrateful for what I have right now, to be hungry for more and more. It taught me that my life isn’t good enough yet. It taught me to just bide my time in the present while living for future perfect days when the difficult aspects of my life have been swept away. Name it and claim it made me tired, and hope deferred made my heart sick.
It wasn’t that my faith was wanting, or that there was some great failing in me that others lack – this is simply the reality of the life chosen for me when God told us to adopt the boys. This is my chosen path, this is the road I need to walk out – not some fantasy life where everything is perfect and everything is okay. A life that appears perfect not because I actually am perfect but which only appears perfect because every problem that would force me to grow has been eliminated. That isn’t a perfect life. A perfect life is about me becoming perfect, something that cannot happen without hardship and opposition.
I am in the crucible being burned and boiled – it’s been this way for many years now. I have spent too many years praying that the crucible will disappear and not enough time embracing the refining that the crucible brings. Name it and claim it thinking, so many years ago now, robbed me of the reality of a life that must be dealt with today, as it is and not how I hope it will someday change. I have to be willing to live this life that was chosen for me, as it is.
The worst thing about “Name it and claim it” is the mask that its adherents have to wear because they have to look blessed in order to look like legitimate believers. Hogwash!
There will be no “rapture” of all of my problems. They are here for a reason, they prepare me, they refine me – but more than that, they remind me that I am just like everyone else who has ever served God, and certainly not entitled to special treatment. Name it and claim it tells me that I am entitled, that I am special, and that if I do everything right then God will have to respond as though I have gotten all of the components right in some magical spell or potion.
What if God’s plan for my son doesn’t involve a full, miraculous healing? I mean, this isn’t just about my life but about his. Andrew is his own unique person, and he has trials to go through as well – being disabled teaches and refines him into a unique kind of person that someone born without disability could never hope to be. Andrew has his own calling, and maybe – just maybe, I am nothing more than the person chosen to care for him while he goes through all this. Name it and claim it made it all about me and my desires and whims as though they were more important than the larger plan. But it’s never been about me, or about Andrew – it’s about God’s big puzzle and how everything works together for a good.
I’m no longer interested in a theology that just removes my problems as though challenges are inherently negative. I don’t want the kind of parent who enables their children by making everything easy. And it’s funny – I haven’t subscribed to that sort of nonsense for years, but the poison was still there and making everything about me.
There’s a reason that people listen to this sort of doctrine – it really does promote the concept of self-centeredness under the guise of making God mighty. In actuality, however, it just makes Him into a sugar daddy and a servant to our covetous desires for a life filled with wealth, health, and perfect contentedness. Preaching it is a great way to make money and draw a crowd, but living that way is sheer, presumptuous denial. We don’t see people living these kinds of lives in the Bible – it’s pure western individualistic narcissism.
(Edit: as my friend Victor pointed out in the comments, and I neglected to mention – the men and women who preach this lack a basic understanding of the fact that we are living in Exile as a result of rebellion, we are not living in the Land with God as our King, and living under His laws – obedience to which brought the blessings and disobedience to which brought expulsion from the Land and made us subject to the consequences, aka curses. We can try, out here in exile, but until the Kingdom is restored under Yeshua, we can’t “walk in the blessings.” If we are going to own the blessings of Leviticus 26, we have to own the curses as well)