Monday, October 17, 2011

Rejoicing, Not Regretting

We have all experienced trials or pain to one degree or another.  Sometimes we bring pain upon ourselves by poor choices.  (Particularly when we do not follow God‘s instruction book -- the Bible -- in our decision making!)  I think of a particular situation that has become my “thorn in the flesh.”  It was an unwise purchase that my husband and I made, and we are still experiencing the consequences of it 6 years later...and probably for some time to come.  I realize that compared to some, this trial seems ridiculous.  But it has been real for me.  It has been painful.  However, this trial has taught me many, many things.  
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.  For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.”  (Romans 8:28-29)
In all trials, if you love God and belong to Him through faith in Jesus Christ, then He is working all things together for your good.  That is hard to imagine when you are in the midst of a trial, especially if you feel like you have brought it upon yourself.  The “good” that He is always working is to make you more like Jesus Christ; “to become conformed to the image of His Son” (v. 29). 
The reality is that God is in control. 
  • He “works all things after the counsel of His will” (from Ephesians 1:11)
  • “No purpose of Yours can be thwarted” (from Job 42:2)
  • “The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord (Proverbs 16:1)
My purpose is not to address the sovereignty of God, but to encourage you that there are times in life (perhaps, many times?) when we make a decision, and it doesn’t turn out as we planned or envisioned that it would.  It may end up bringing us grief and pain. But God allowed it, and He has reasons for allowing it. He has good things to teach us in the process, maybe some things that we would not have learned any other way than to go through that particular trial at that particular time.
I have focused these thoughts on so-called “poor decisions,” even those we pray about but do not gather all of the facts or take the time and effort necessary to make a wise decision.  But here is another thought: Perhaps you have been faithful to pray, study, seek counsel, and confidently go forward with a decision that you were convinced God wanted you to do, and yet that decision has brought great agony and distress.  Remember that obedience to God does not guarantee an easy life free of pain.  Again, the Lord often uses pain or hardship to draw us closer to Himself and teach us lifelong lessons.  Just because things have not turned out the way you had hoped does not mean it was a “bad” decision.
Do you have regrets over any decisions you have made?  Is the regret over making a sinful decision, or because the situation did not turn out as you had hoped?  If it was a sinful decision, God offers forgiveness if you confess your sin to Him (1 John 1:9).  Once you have been forgiven, walk in it!  Either way, rather than living in regret, look at what God has done in your life, specifically through that painful decision.  Maybe even write it down (there’s that idea again!).  Share it with others.  Rejoice in the Lord instead of being a prisoner of regret.

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