Humans by nature have a tendency to spiritually judge situations according to the way they feel to us. If something feels bad, we tend to adopt a critical attitude and point fingers at Satan. If something feels good, we praise God for the great thing he has done. Rather than arguing over who caused what to happen, it is better to focus on which perspective or lens we will view it through—the eternal or the temporal. Through the eternal lens we are reminded that “in all things [good and bad] God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28).
I’m not saying that there isn’t a Devil or that sickness is not the result of the fall of man. I am saying that if we only perceive bad situations as the work of Satan or blame them on someone else, we develop a critical attitude and miss what God has for us. God desires us to get beyond the way a situation looks or feels and live in the hope that he is in control of all things. In believing this, we are able to “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for [us] inChrist Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:18).
Joseph was a man whose life reflected the example of Christ, though he lived many centuries earlier. In recalling a negative situation, he exhibited his faith in God through the words he said to his brothers: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good…” (Gen. 50:20). Joseph trusted that God was in control of even the worst situations. Therefore, he praised God rather than criticize his brothers for the hardships he had suffered. When we are willing to trust God even in bad situations, critical thinking melts away and we begin to respond as Jesus responded to his upcoming encounter with evil in the garden of Gethsemane: “Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” (John 18:11). The cup the Father has given me. Facing death by crucifixion would certainly qualify as the worst of situations. Yet Jesus didn’t ask, “Why me?” He didn’t criticize those involved with the evil done against him. He knew that the Father’s plan served a much higher purpose than the temporal situation.
Jesus never criticized or complained, always encouraged, and always exemplified what it means to trust the Father in all things. Through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, God enables his children to do the same. And when his children disregard the power of the Holy Spirit and fall into critical thinking and behavior, he graciously atones for their sins. What a good God we serve!
Excerpted from Chapter 1 of Guiltless Living