To escape the hot Texas sun, my daughter and I have spent a lot of time in the pool this summer. Morgan has made major strides with swimming and no longer sees it as pure torture. I am relieved that she finally enjoys something she was so scared of last summer.
While swimming with her one day, I suddenly saw a huge water bug in the pool that was at least 2 inches long. I didn’t think much of it until a few minutes later when I noticed it perched on Morgan’s arm floaty. I quickly brushed it off without her noticing. We swam a few minutes more before I realized how unsuccessful I was at getting rid of the bug as it was now in Morgan’s hair! From behind her, I quietly and stealthily grabbed the nasty bug when she flinched and yelled, “Ouch, why did you pull my hair, Mama?!?” Fortunately, she never caught on to what I was really doing.
I know my daughter pretty well, and had she realized a huge bug was caught in her hair, she would have never stepped foot in the pool again. As Morgan saw it, I inconvenienced her by pulling her hair but in reality, I saved her from something I knew would upset her and derail her progress in swimming.
The same situation has happened countless times in my relationship with God. What I have often seen as an inconvenience, was merely the ripple effect of God’s protection from a hurt or tragedy that only He could have saved me from.
Looking back, there are many instances where I thought I knew what was best for me. Hindsight is truly 20/20 and I’m thankful God didn’t give me what I prayed He would. He knows that sometimes what we desire most is the very thing that will destroy us. Thankfully God is faithful to intervene in the lives of His children to show them a better way, His way.
Maybe it was the boyfriend who broke up with you in high school who you KNEW you would marry. Maybe it was the not so budget-friendly dream house that slipped through your fingers at the last minute. Because of His great love for us, there are times God has to drag us kicking and screaming to protect us from less than His best. And what is best for Him is always best for us. Proverbs 16:9 says, “The heart of man plans his way but the Lord establishes his steps.”
In Genesis 37, Joseph was a young Israelite with many brothers who were jealous of Him. His brothers decided to deal with Joseph once and for all by throwing him in a pit and leaving him to die. It was then that a group of Ishmaelites came by that his brothers decided to sell him as a slave for less than $100 today. He was placed in the house of an Egyptian master named Potiphar and everything that Joseph touched, God blessed.
Potiphar’s wife had different plans for Joseph, however. She accused him of coming onto her and Joseph was placed in prison. Genesis 39:21 states, “But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sign of the keeper of the prison.” Before long, Joseph was running the prison and became an interpreter of dreams for the prisoners. After two years passed, Pharaoh had some dreams he could not make sense of and Joseph was actually called upon out of the prison. He not only interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams but made Pharaoh aware of the dangerous famines approaching Egypt and the devastation that was ahead if they did not prepare accordingly.
As governor of Egypt, Joseph was put in charge of gathering food. Instead of allowing his family to perish in the famine, Joseph welcomed them into Egypt along with all the other Israelites. Joseph’s misfortune was a necessary inconvenience in comparison to blessings that came forth. Through it, Joseph became governor of Egypt, saved the lives of the Egyptians from the famines and most importantly He was the tool God used to preserve the Israelite line by relocating them.
Often God uses tragedy to accomplish rich blessings beyond our comprehension and no one understands this better than Jesus Christ. Sin separates us from a relationship with God and the penalty for any sin is death (Romans 3:23). Jesus knew His death was the only remedy to deal with our sin problem, so God’s one and only son became a human being and freely died in our place (Romans 5:6-8; 1 Peter 2:24; 3:18). He was punished for our sin so that we can receive God’s forgiveness. Then God raised Jesus from the dead, conquering sin and death for us.
Because He voluntarily endured pure torture on the cross, God now offers us eternal life as an absolutely free gift to anyone who trusts in Jesus Christ (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9). That is the meaning of the word “grace.” God gives us His forgiveness and His favor as a free gift, based on what Jesus has done for us. If you believe in Jesus, that He died for your sins and rose from the dead, then you can know that you have eternal life (1 John 5:11-13).
Maybe God has you on what seems to be a perilous path, maybe you feel like there is no end to this phase of life or you are enduring a trial that seems pointless. Know that God works all things for our good and that there is a purpose life’s hardships (Romans 8:28-29). When you have a relationship with Him, what we perceive as an inconvenience is often his active role in protecting us and growing us to be more like Him. When we commit to follow Him, God protects us from less than his best. May our lives be overflowing with the “inconvenience” of God’s protection.
What are the ways God has protected you and how is He protecting you even now from greater hardships?