“If God wanted you to have it, God would give it to you!” I can’t tell you how many times I have heard Christians try to comfort and support each other with these words.
Marie was certain that God had wanted her to be a teacher, but the school system said no.
Jack deserved a promotion, but his boss hired someone to fill the position from the outside.
In both cases, their friends tried to comfort them by saying, “If God wanted you to have this, God would have given it to you.” Often followed up with, “God has something better planned for you.”
Well… no. Let me add something to these stories you didn’t know and see what you think then:
Marie was disabled and the school system thought teaching would be too hard for someone who was wheelchair bound.
Jack was sixty and the company would rather invest in a younger – albeit less qualified – person.
Just because God doesn’t open up a certain path for you doesn’t mean that God hadn’t desired that path for you. It doesn’t mean that the people charged with making a decision that affects your life haven’t made an error in judgement – even if its been a group decision – even if they think they were led by God.
God allows people to hold each other back from achieving all that God desires for them through racism, ableism, sexism, ageism, and all the other “ism”s. God has even allowed people to hold each other back for no real reason at all except they just don’t like each other. It grieves God, but God doesn’t always step into our world and fix every situation.
Remember Joseph? His brothers just didn’t like him. God let his brothers sell him into slavery. God’s desire was that Joseph grow up with his family and protect them from the famine that was coming. Instead, Joseph protected the Egyptians (who had bought him) while his family lost everything. It gets worse. Eventually the descendants of Joseph’s brothers became slaves of the Egyptians. That wasn’t the way God had wanted things to work out.
The hard truth of the matter is that God does not always break into the world and fix the wrongs that affect us. God lets bad decisions made by others affect the good that God desires for us.
Of course, it doesn’t mean that God can’t do “workarounds.” Look at what God did for Joseph. After a ton of hardship over a long period of time, Joseph became the most powerful man in Egypt and was eventually reunited with his family (the horrible brothers who he forgave!). But think what might have been if his brothers had made the right decision to begin with? Would Israel have avoided becoming slaves to the Egyptians?
There are two messages here.
First, there is a message for those who have ever been treated unfairly: it doesn’t mean you weren’t seeking God’s desires just because they weren’t granted – perhaps you shouldn’t give up without confronting those who have made the mistake.
Second, there is a message for those who have made decisions that affect others: be aware that humans can make horrible mistakes. Realize this, show some humility, and be willing to right your wrongs.
When Joseph was reunited with his brothers, he said to them “Even though you devised harm against me, God devised good.” – Gen 50:20
Check out April’s Books, Disorderly Bible Studies, for group and individual study. The featured art, “Joseph is Sold as a Slave,” is by He Qi and can be purchased at http://www.heqiart.com/.