Favor means…

I remember the first time I discovered what “favor” means. I was told that it means someone is smiling upon you. If you have favor with God, then God was smiling upon you and blessing you. If you have favor with men, then people just want to do things for you. So if I’m waiting in line at the grocery store and the woman in front of me with the full cart invites me to go in front of her, that’s favor. If a doctor’s office reduces my bills, that’s favor.

But recently, before Christmas, our radio station was telling the Christmas story. I was hanging Christmas cards, I think, when they read these words from Luke 1:30: And the angel said, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.”

I froze, for in that instant I thought about how Mary’s life was different from all the other women around her–women who apparently hadn’t favor with God.

Mary had to endure the stigma of being an unwed mother.
She had to flee the country because the king wanted to kill her son.
She had to watch her son die the most awful death imaginable.
She had to watch at least one more of her sons die (James), because he followed her first son.

To put it bluntly, Mary’s life was far from easy! And why? Because she found favor with God!

I have to admit…until that moment, I always assumed that “finding favor with God” was synonymous with “my life getting better.” And that, of course, meant that my life should get easier. Didn’t it?

I remember turning around to my sister, who was visiting, and saying, “You know, finding favor with God doesn’t necessarily mean your life gets easier, does it?”

She looked at me, and I think it struck her the same way, because she got that look in her eyes, and she said something like, “Lots of people in the Bible found favor with God. And I don’t think any of them had easy lives.”

Noah found favor with God…and then had to live through years of ridicule while he built an ark, and then had to endure an entire year in that ark with the animals, and then had to start his life over from scratch, completely.

Joseph found favor with God…and was sold into slavery, falsely accused, thrown into jail, and forgotten.

Moses found favor with God…and he had to deal with a million cantankerous, complaining, rebellious people. And he had to do it for forty years because of the people’s sin!

Daniel surely found favor with God, though it doesn’t say those specific words…yet he was carried away into captivity as a youth (and mostly likely never saw his parents and family again), rounded up under sentence of death not long after because of a king’s crazy ideas and other people’s failure to please the crazy king, had the kingdom he’d become a leader in fall and the city captured (which couldn’t have been an enjoyable experience), was surrounded by peers who were so insanely jealous of him that they plotted and succeeded in getting him thrown into the lion’s den (which, at that moment, would have made me doubt that I had God’s favor), and who knows what else he went through.

Jeremiah must have found favor with God, in order to be chosen as a youth and told that he was being given the power to overthrow kingdoms…yet his job was to continually preach to people who ignored him, he was thrown into a well, he had the work he’d slaved over destroyed, he was carried away into captivity, as well as a lot more that I just can’t think of at the moment.

And, of course, Jesus found favor with God, yet his life was full of temptation, persecution, never being home, knowing that his life was sought…and of course, a death so terrible that I cannot really imagine it.

All of that leaves me wanting to know what it really does mean to find favor with God, because it’s obviously somewhat different from when He gives us favor with men.

Honestly, I feel like I’m missing something really important here. There appears to be a piece of the puzzle that I just don’t see. And I want to see it. I want to know what God’s favor actually means.

What do you think it means to find favor with God? And after reading through the list above, do you still want God’s favor on your life?

5 thoughts on “Favor means…”

  1. Its depends completely on how you look at it. Mary had to bear the stigma of an unwed mother but God provided a man that stood by her through it all. Her son was spared being killed as a child by Herod. Her son rose from the dead. Noah and his family were spared drowning in the flood. They ruled the Earth, all that they looked at was theirs. Noah lived 350 years among his family after the flood. Joseph became second in command to the Pharaoh in Egypt and practically ruled the most powerful kingdom in the world. He was given wisdom to save his family and the kingdom, and they were given some of the best land in Egypt. Moses also was spared death as a child. He was raised as a prince and then was used by God to work some of the most powerful miracles in the Bible.
    Favor doesn't mean a fairy tale life, sin is in the world and that has an effect on everyone in it. Even with humans it doesn't always lead to joy. If I had to do something really dangerous or I was in trouble, I would turn (in the physical at least) to my friends or family, people I can depend on. And I would hope that they come to me in similar situations. It won't make the other persons life easier when it happens but you naturally turn to the people you love. And once its over how much do you want to reward the person that helped you? I think its the same way with God. He doesn't need our help of course but I think he goes to people he knows can get the job done and will stay with him no matter how hard it gets. And I also believe in the end he rewards them beyond anything we can imagine.

  2. Sooo…

    Is favor, then, nothing more than God's faithfulness? And if so, are faithfulness and favor both part of God's nature, so much that He cannot keep from giving them to us?

  3. I always thought favor was something good happening to you, so that even in the midst of difficult circumstances, as long as God's favor surrounds you, you can go through it.

    A few months ago my daughter was held up at gun point just outside our home as she was preparing to get inside. She told me that she had a strong sense of God's favor surrounding her. She gave up her purse, which had a few valuables inside, but she got away unharmed. She also said she felt no fear, for she felt God's presence with her.

    Favor is really something very positive… and as you pointed out in your post, many Bible characters had God's favor, although their lives were far from comfortable.

    This is really something to think about. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


  4. Those who found favor were given huge responsibility. God knew they could handle the challenges. I always thought favor was the result of those who sought God's heart and to live a life God-filled with heart. They were can-do people who did not sit idly by living the status quo. For example, Mary went to visit Elizabeth. How many teens or young married women would go spend quite a bit of time with an old woman family member? She was willing to Believe Out of the Box.

    I so love posts that make me think! Thank you:)

  5. Great post, Katie! (You wrote about me, yay! Okay, not really about me … *grin*.) Truth be told, I don't remember that exchange. *sheepish* But your question is a fabulous one, and it makes me want to study it. I don't actually know that answer. I do know …

    ** That 'favor' in the OT is the word "Chanan" or "Chen" (the 'ch' pronounced the same as in 'Bach') and is where my name comes from, actually. Hannah … the Hebrew name that is the precursor to all "Ann" names is basically just the feminine form of "chanan."

    ** That "chen" is, in a few instances in the OT, translated 'grace,' and the idea behind this word relates very closely to the NT word "charis" meaning 'grace, or unmerited favor.' A concept Mom was very passionate about, you may remember. 🙂

    ** That Daniel did find favor … in fact the reference to this is so beautiful and affirming it almost brings tears to think that God sees anyone this way: Dan 9:23 "At the beginning of your supplications the command was issued, and I have come to tell {you,} for you are highly esteemed …" 10:11 He said to me, "O Daniel, man of high esteem, understand the words that I am about to tell you and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you." :19 He said, "O man of high esteem, do not be afraid." "High esteem" is the Hebrew word "chamad" which means 'to desire or take pleasure in.' (You can see a lexicon entry here.) It seems to take favor a bit farther, even. Although I'm not certain of that.

    And I love Jonathan's take on it. 😀 "He doesn't need our help of course but I think he goes to people he knows can get the job done and will stay with him no matter how hard it gets." I think he's probably right. 😀

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