Question: Does God ever remove His favor from our lives?
Answer: No, God does not remove his favor from our lives (although I will have to admit that it sometimes feels as though he has). Fortunately, feelings, although fun and useful, are not reliable tools to gauge God’s favor. Instead, we must rely on his revelation—and especially that which he has revealed in his written word—to bridge the relationship between feelings and understanding.
First, let us consider God’s character. He is immutable. God does not change. Throughout all the ages his character, his purposes and his promises stand firm. And where those promises are fixed with favors, those favors also remain forever.
“For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.” (Malachi 3:6, ESV).
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:17, ESV).
“God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?” (Numbers 23:19, ESV).
What this means is that if we feel like something (or someone) has changed, it must be us…but which us? I ask, because there are only two types of us: We who are God’s children...and everybody else. There are times when he must treat these two types differently, but quite often he treats us all the same.
For instance, both his children his non-children enjoy rainfall, crops, tides, moon, stars, sun, friends, family—what might be viewed as common mercies. God’s children do not receive these in any more abundance or intensity than do his non-children, and the cycles of bounty and starvation, natural beauty and nature’s destruction, pass over the globe affecting all persons whether saved or unsaved. Nevertheless, God has reserved special favors for his children, and I think (perhaps) that you had these in view when asking the question.
“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,”
(John 1:12, ESV).
If we are indeed children of God, born-again into his family by the blood of Jesus Christ, then we enjoy the favors of another realm: Those reserved for family—God’s family. If those favors ever seem to ebb and flow, then the variations can only be attributed to our interpretation of the phenomena. Like any good earthly father, our heavenly Father must occasionally “favor” us with discomforts, some to correct wrongful behaviors and some to grow correct behaviors. But like most earthly children, we seldom feel that our Father’s love-based changes are anything but out-and-out punishment—the withdrawal of favor.
“For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”
(Hebrews 12:6, ESV).
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28, ESV).
If all things work together for good, then God’s favor remains and is continually applied to the persons who are called according to his purpose, his children. But be warned. “All things” might include the death of a loved one, financial disaster or personal illness. These are all life-events which might be interpreted as a withdrawal of God’s favor. Discomforting though they may be, a mature believer must accept these events as “favors,” and new believers should be taught that trouble will come—and that these troubles are all, either in action or in permission, sent from a God who loves us. When passing through the trials that are sure to come, it is helpful to remember the biggest favor of all: Eternal Life! All persons who have received Jesus Christ as Savior receive God’s eternal life (eternal favor) no matter what!
“And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:11–13, ESV).
Conversely, all other persons (and no matter how hard they try) can never receive God’s eternal favor.
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” (Proverbs 14:12, ESV).
What this means is that true believers can never lose God’s favor. They may, however, lose his intimate fellowship. When a shepherd tends to his flock, all the sheep fall under his protection, even the ones who seem to enjoy staying way out on the edges. There are others of the sheep, however, who work to move closer to the shepherd, and these who get within his reach, might receive a personal touch or a special treat at his hand. God plays that shepherd’s role with us, too. We all enjoy his protective favor, but some intimate favors are reserved for those who sidle up to him. It is not that God withdraws those special favors from the rest, they just become unavailable to the sheep who step to the edge of the flock. Any ostensive removal of favor is the result of a believer removing himself from an intimate walk with God. God never removes his person or his favor from his children.
As you can see, there are many advantages to becoming a child of God. O yes, becoming born-again does indeed queue one up for familial discipline, but even that is all good! (Rom. 8:28) Those small discomforts are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come, and those small pleasures of sin that occur outside of God's family can only be repaid by the misery to come: Death...and the second death! (Rev. 20:14) We should, therefore, invite everyone to come and join the family. All are welcome.