As a Christian, I believe that God is a constant in my life and the life of every Christian. (I also believe God is a constant in everyone’s life, whether known and acknowledged or not, but that’s a topic for another time.) There is no event, no person, no time, no place where God is not. Yet, there are events, persons, times, and places where things do not appear to be what God would have them be. And in these situations, I have learned several lessons that I would rather not have learned.
These lessons are something like learning that I should check – then recheck – to see if the lug nuts are tight after changing a tire on the car. That was a painful and costly lesson. I would rather have simply been told; but I actually had to learn the lesson. Here are a few other lessons I’ve learned, some through my own painful experience, others through observation of those around me:
Good people can do terrible things. There are lots of Biblical examples of this: Abraham lied, David murdered, Peter denied. Unfortunately, we have all known people we respected and trusted who, either in a moment of weakness or because of a “blind spot,” did something that harmed us or hurt another person. A drunk driver who was usually a role model, an inappropriate response in an emotionally stressful situation, an untruth stated in an ill-advised attempt to help or cover for someone.
Godly people sometimes experience divorce. Jesus warned against it; God said He hates it. It has always been God’s plan that a man and woman, once joined together in marriage, should remain together as one; a model and demonstration of a Believer’s unique relationship with his God. But being Godly does not guarantee a harmonious marriage. The fact that stress comes, that trials and difficulties appear, or that heartthrobs diminish is no reason to dissolve a marriage. And Godly people will make every appropriate effort to maintain a marriage. But one or the other party may not go the distance or may lack the maturity or confidence in God or the sheer tenacity to maintain the marriage. Unfortunately, sometimes even marriages that were Godly and strong are dissolved.
Children don’t always continue in the ways a parent taught or lived. This can produce a lot of guilt. After all, doesn’t the Bible say, “Train up a child in the way he should go…”? Whatever that text means, it sheds little light on many situations. Godly parents often grieve over the wayward child, just as children who come to know the Lord later in life often grieve over parents who have never acknowledged God. Without citing numerous examples from Scripture about children who disappoint parents, let’s just acknowledge that history and the society around us abound in examples.
Other lessons I never wanted to learn include: Careful people can have serious health, or financial, or physical difficulties; Godly people often disagree; Disaster can strike both good and bad people. The list could go on. These are questions and issues that often disturb and trouble us, especially if we genuinely love God and want to know Him and His ways.
Perhaps the greatest lesson any of us must learn, and we would do well to learn it early and be reminded of it often, is that God is in control. God is too good to do wrong and too wise to make a mistake. Everything that He allows to touch my life is always and only for my good and His glory. God rules, even when I don’t understand.
The Apostle Paul said it this way: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)