By Akin Ojumu

Let’s play a game – a game of hypotheticals.

John Christian is a fervent Christian who loves the LORD his God with all his heart, and with all his soul, with all his strength, with all his mind, and his neighbor as himself. At his Church he is known as a prayer warrior and an unusually gifted teacher of the Word. Everybody talks about his uncompromising lifestyle. His intolerance for sin and impassioned disdain for iniquity is legendary. In fact, he is the poster child for a godly man, prototypical spiritual brother, and a quintessential righteous soul. 

His life is marked with blessedness all around, as a recognition of his godliness and a fulfilment of that Scripture that says, “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you,” it seems. 

The man rolls in wealth and he walks in health. His job is a 6-figure monthly income gig that he loves with passion, his wife is a beauty queen who’s more of a fashion model than a housewife, and his home is a mansion in a gated community at the center of an enclave of the wealthy and right next to a beautiful lake. All his children are straight A students in Ivy League schools, and they all love the Lord just like their father.

Now, imagine a situation where John Christian’s life in suddenly upended in the blink of an eye and, without warning, a life altering tragedy befell this man after God’s heart. Supposing a category 5-like hurricane sweeps through this man’s well-ordered life and his well-arranged, perfectly orchestrated, lifestyle is upturned in an instance. Let’s suppose, all of a sudden, John Christian is stricken with a calamity so severe that he finds himself, suddenly, crawling into Job’s skin and walking in it. 

Let’s imagine that in a dramatic turn of event, John Christian’s fanciful high paying job is poof! Gone! With his phone ringing off the hook from the creditors calling to recoup what he owes and unable to pay, it dawns on him he’s gone bankrupt and become a pauper. In quick succession, the news comes that all his children are involved in a fatal car accident that claims their lives. The next day, his beautiful home gets foreclosed, and the mortgage company dispatches officers from the Sheriff’s office to throw John Christian and his belongings out of his multimillion-dollar home unto the streets as his envious neighbors become instant gawkers, rubberneckers, tweeting gossips about John’s misfortune, spreading rumors about his downfall, and stories about his calamity start to trend on all the neighborhood’s social media platforms.  

Unable to handle the level of stress and overcome with the shame of a life turned upside down, John Christian’s beautiful model of a wife dumps him for his next-door neighbor whom he thought was his best friend.

While John Christian is still licking his wounds and trying to massage his bruised ego, he realizes he has been stricken with leprosy with his hair, fingers, and toes all falling off. As though that isn’t enough, he notices he’s also losing his eyesight and finding it difficult to see clearly. On top of that, he loses control of his bladder and rectum; he now goes about clad in adult diapers that he is forced to keep on for days without changing because he can’t afford to change them as regularly as he should.

Now, let’s suppose you are my imaginary John Christian.

What would you do and how would react to this sudden change in circumstance? If, God forbid, you were the one who experienced these devastating tragedies, how would it impact your Christian life? What would become of your relationship with God if you had to face such catastrophic events? Would you still love God? If your relatively good and happy life suddenly experiences a reversal of fortune, and you are now faced with sorrow and disaster, would you be proud to call God your Father in Heaven? Are you able to fall in love with a God who allows such pain and misery into your life? Do the tragedies and misfortune in your life distort the image of God in your mind? Do extreme poverty, severe sickness, debilitating illness, and death make God look good in your eyes?

"I personally will struggle to fall in love with a God who, nearly a hundred and eight (180) million people in a country He loves so much, are living beneath $2 a day. It doesn't make God look good..." 

The above statement wasn't a declaration by an avowed atheist. This wasn’t a proclamation by wretched heathen. It wasn’t a free-thinking cynic who said those words. Those words were uttered by none other than Pastor Paul Adefarasin during a Church service parked with tens of thousands of cheering and adoring parishioners. The context of the statement was a sermon about the untenable state of affairs in Nigeria and how the country has been bedeviled with bad leaders who have mismanaged the country’s affairs. 

To hear a man of God – a well revered and influential Pastor – express such a deep and transactional sentiment about God, knocked the socks off my mind. The shock of it provoked a thought in me. I’m left asking myself, is this really what God is to us? Is God only as good as the goodies we get from Him? Deep within our soul, is He as large as the largesse He bestows on us from His throne of grace? Are we supposed to fall in love with God only when things are good for us? Do the calamities that befall us make God look bad?

Now you know why we had to play the hypothetical game. Let everyman examine himself.


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