At a family dinner gathering, the blessing was said and we all reached for our plates. Four year old Zac looked down at the plate his mother had prepared for him, threw up his arms and yelled, “WAIT, we have to pray again because I DO NOT LIKE my food!”
The childish proclamation was funny but in reality, Christians do this all the time. God determines the things that are allowed to come into our lives, even the bad things have to pass God’s scrutiny. (Job 1: 6-12) When the stuff that happens to us is a little uncomfortable, we swallow hard and quote scripture, rebuke the devil and “handle.” We don’t LIKE it, but, hey, sometimes life is—not tasty.
One of the hardest things to handle is when we are used as tools to work in the lives of others. We have no idea what’s going on, why ‘we’ got hurt or what God’s doing through us. We only know that suddenly, life is not fair! We hurt or have been hurt terribly and even though we pray and search our own heart, we can find no reason for our circumstance. We feel like God’s gone to the beach to work on His awesome tan and we’re left in the middle of a pit of alligators—feeling bitten and bloody!
Joseph, when he was thrown into the pit and then later into jail, is one scriptural illustration of how God used an individual’s suffering to work His will for others. Satan’s plans are for destruction, God’s plan is to use that destruction to build and strengthen. There are times when God chooses to use another person’s pain to change “me” and times God uses my suffering to change others.
Disobedience and sin always have a price that is paid in the lives of others. Sin is an equal opportunity destroyer, giving both sinner AND victim a choice. It is up to the sinner to choose repentance or continued sin. The victim must choose forgiveness or bitterness as an outcome. Bitterness is recognized as equally undesirable along with anger, fighting and rage in Ephesians chapter 4.
Far down the road, past the painful event in our lives, we sometimes can see what God was doing, sometimes not. But always, in all ways, God directs and uses everything that happens to us, whether for us or for others, to us or through us; be patient and thankful—in all things. God is good; ALL the time.
Ephesians 4:31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.
Prayer: Father God, help me to recognize that satan’s plan is always a plan of destruction. I recognize that destruction can come as anger and bitterness through unforgiveness of sin committed against me. Help me to not only forgive but to not allow bitterness to grow in my heart. Amen.
Job 1: 6-12 One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”
Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.” Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”
“Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land.
But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.” The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger. Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.