Sometimes we become convinced to expect blessings and success in return for following Jesus. We are tempted to believe this not because we find it in our bible but because we like blessings and success. It is important for us to remember that we do not share the same definitions of success and blessing as those who do not claim to be following Jesus. You may drive a new Lexus, wear Ralph Lauren, and eat at Red Lobster – by all means recognize these things as gift – but it is important to realize that these are not reward for following Jesus. These may be gifts from God but no more gift than a used Ford, Joe Boxer, or Ramen noodles.
This is not a new phenomenon. The Old Testament book of Job may not mention Jesus, but it does remind us that doing the right thing does not always result in blessing. Job has everything and is stripped to nothing. Through it all, Job demonstrates, from start to finish, from plenty to nothing – God does not change and we do not figure him out. Job is a reading in reality.
It has almost become Gospel in some churches to expect blessings and success in return for following Jesus. But, we could never have seriously read Job (and certainly do not understand the cross) if we believe the Gospel is a promise of success and prosperity in this world. In fact, this thinking is one of the major problems in Job.
We may never experience what Job experienced, but we will hold to inaccurate pictures of God (as Job and his friends) as long as we picture God as one who does not suffer. Incarnation is illustration that God is not a mere spectator. He is participating with us. He does not merely tolerate suffering. He does not only heal suffering. He is active in it, even participates in it. He even redeems and gives life through it.