So, whose fault is it when things go wrong? Do you ever have a problem giving credit where it’s due? How about blame… Me, too.
In my line of work I see a lot of relational chaos – someone did someone wrong, yelled at someone else who didn’t do anything intentionally wrong, etc., etc. A good majority of marital problems we’re called in to untangle are rooted in unmet expectations, but second place often comes from misplaced blame and misdirected anger. Hence, a look at Prov. 19.3.
Watch Where You Point That Thing
We often joke that “man plans, God laughs”. But Prov 16:9 and Prov 21:31 [rollover links for the verses] remind us that we can plot and plan, but God is ultimately responsible for outcomes. However, when we’re doing (or have done) something foolish, sometimes I think we expect God (Father of mercy and grace) to step in and protect us from our consequences. What’s that all about? Haven’t we been warned about the fruit of foolishness? So, why do we end up with a heart that rages against God when we’ve sown in foolishness?
Problem #1 – Blaming God for appropriate consequences. Reaping a fool’s reward is a predictable outcome: “I keep planting apple seeds, but can’t seem to harvest oranges.” No kidding. Fool’s fault, not God’s.
It was pointed out to me yesterday how often Job’s wife is presented as a nag or just plain mean. “Curse God and die!” (2:9) And, the reader gasps at her blasphemy, right? But, while Job is grieving his losses, how’s she feeling? Isn’t she, too, grieving the loss of her husband’s fortune, her children, and now her husband’s health is in question? Can we really blame her for her outburst? While we have behind the scenes information about what’s really happening, she doesn’t. In fact, if Job is indeed the oldest book in the canon of scripture, she’s the case study – how does that feel? Would you be tempted, in her shoes -grieving, broken, and uncertain of her/her husband’s future, to poorly aim the blame?
The point of Job’s story is the Job worships God despite his circumstances and we can/should, too. Terrible things may happen regardless of our righteousness and right living – we live in a broken world with a crafty, broken enemy who hates us bitterly. Problem #2 – Blaming God for Satan’s work or the consequences of a fallen world. Ultimately, our worshipful response to terrible circumstances can teach angels how to worship God, see Eph 3:10., not out of obligation but out of gratitude and unconditional love.
I am often encouraged when scripture sheds light on the fact that there is a reason for suffering, a purpose to pain, and an over-arching plan in harsh circumstances that will ultimately point greater glory to God. So, today, let’s consider that with problem 1, we’ve already been warned. God, who loves us enough to die for us, left us great encouragement to search out wisdom at great cost and warns us of the many consequences of folly in advance. Praise God.
But, with problem 2, we must keep in mind the fact that at the judgment seat of Christ, we will all see what was really going on behind the scenes as each believer’s life is reviewed in full – we will not only see God’s greater and higher plan in majestic detail, but also potentially learn the struggles others were facing, the fears they were weighing, and the wounds they may have been guarding when they retaliated against us, blamed us for their own folly, etc. We live in a fallen world with a devious foe who will stop at nothing to mar and desecrate us – God’s crowning creations. Let us not give him more credit than he is due, nor allow him to embitter us against God when his nefarious plans “succeed”.
May we shake no more fists at heaven, but take a knee for what God restored for Job and may eventually reward us with at the judgement seat – a reward that lasts forever. May we give God the glory, not the blame when things go sour and keep proper perspective when pain, destruction, and trial comes our way.