Countless things happen around us every day, most of which are unplanned and we are unprepared for. We are caught having that look of the unexpected; the look of despair, and, based on how tragic the event is, we tend to throw in the towel. We give up because we are now overwhelmed with the dastardly situations and circumstances. Experiences then become a form of doctrine for the people who have been through them and, from these experiences, many books are being written, many books have been written, many clichés have been coined, theories developed, songs written and movies made. In other words, the said experiences of the occurred events form indelible prints in our minds and very soon become so palpable that we almost cannot change our minds even in the face of the real truth.
Truth be told, when anything happens that spells or gives a sense of negativity (interpreted by one of our five senses), immediately we become uncomfortable and soon we want solutions to what we now describe as problems. Little do we know or remember that our past predicaments, or again what we call problems, are part and parcel of what has formed our recent values coupled with the decisions we are now making or have made. We look back sometimes and begin to thank God for having made us go through some of the ordeals we went through. The paradox of this is that we feel the pain during the event and would almost want to get out of the situation, but then we have to get through it. This reminds me of the situation Jesus found himself in, in the Garden of Gethsemane. He cried “Lord, let this cup pass away from me but not my will but your will Lord”. Of course the will of the Lord was for Jesus to drink the contents of that cup. Jesus will look back at a particular time and give thanks to God because He completed the work He was sent to planet Earth to accomplish.
What if Joseph had refused to tell the dreams he had to his family?His brothers would not have envied him to the extent of wanting to put him away. What if Joseph’s brothers refused to betray him on that very good day? The history of Israel would have been thwarted and the promise made to Abram by God would not have come to pass. Joseph would not have ended up in Egypt, would not have met the King and would not have ended up occupying such an exalted position in Egypt. God had told Abram that His people would be strangers in a foreign land and, after such a time, He (God) would bring them out of that land with a strong hand. Joseph was the man to go before his brothers and family to prepare this place for them. Joseph had to go through his own training by the different things he went through so that when he discovered his brothers again, he was forced to see beyond the human perception. There would eventually be no revenge because his brothers were also part of the tribe that would form the Nation of Israel, as yet unknown to him. He had to become the man God had purposed him to be.
What if Jesus stopped at “take this cup away from me”, and did not continue on with the part of “let your will be done”? What if Jesus was swept away into the wilderness where He was tempted by the devil? What if Jesus had compromised his testimony when the Jews cornered him; He could have refuted that He was the Son of God? He could have pleaded for mercy so that they could release Him and He could then head home to reunite with his family and loved ones. These were indeed excruciating times in His life as he became the subject of shame and reproach. People who had looked up to Him felt disappointed and refused to follow him; people who had been healed through Christ refuted that He was indeed the Christ and, most shockingly, how would Jesus have felt as he saw Peter (due to pressure) deny him the very third time? The Bible cites that, when the cock crowed for the third time, Jesus looked back and gazed at no one but Peter; how would Jesus have felt if he were a man? Awful, I am sure!
What if Peter had not denied Jesus? He wouldn’t have known the many things he discovered not only about God but also about himself. He would discover how fallible and frail he was, like any other human being. Peter would gather, from his denial of Jesus, how not to condemn men when they miss the mark, so he has to miss the mark and be restored so that he would be in the best of positions to strengthen the people coming behind who would, in one way or another, miss the mark. The reason for this ‘what if’ was known to Jesus: he knew what kind of training Peter would need to make him the man God had destined him to become. Peter would have felt very bad at the moment Jesus looked back at him but, unknown to him, he was undertaking training under the auspices of the Almighty.
What if Saul (when he was first introduced) had refused to consent to the killing of Steven as he propagated the gospel and afterwards decided to head for Damascus in his pursuit to kill some of the other disciples who propagated the Gospel? He finally met with God and was made one of the greatest theologians of all time. Only God knew what sort of person Paul (named after his conversion) was and the kind of ordeal (the many varied trials and sufferings) he would go through to make him the man he was destined to be. Those times of trials and sufferings were very painful moments in his life, so much so that, at one time, he despaired and felt he would die.
What if you are not going through that excruciating pain? You might not be the man God has purposed you to be. You might not get to the next phase of your life and, even if you do, you might not be properly equipped for that phase, meaning that you might return to the formal phase to obtain the required training. There is no point running from those trying times because those times prepare you for the future. They are painful times but you would look back one day and give thanks for the pains after they are long gone. The reason is that God knows us because we came from Him and thus He knows what kind of trials one must go through in order to be prepared for all He has purposed us to be.
When that prominent servant of God, Mr. Gilpin, was arrested, to be brought up to London to be tried for preaching the gospel, his captors made mirth of his frequent remark, “Everything is for the best”. When he fell from his horse and broke his leg they were especially happy about it, but the good man quietly remarked, “I have no doubt but that even this painful accident will prove to be a blessing”. And so it was for, as he could not travel quickly, the journey was prolonged and he arrived in London some days later than had been expected. When they reached Highgate, they heard the bells ringing gleefully in the city. They asked the meaning of the noise and were told, “Queen Mary is dead, and there will be no more burnings of Protestants”. “Ah!” said Gilpin, “you see it is all for the best”. It is a blessing to break a leg if thereby life is saved. How often our calamities are our preservatives! A less evil may ward off a greater – C H Spurgeon.