Our Frustration, God’s Glory

This past week my family and I were in a car accident. It wasn’t our fault, we were rear ended at a stop light. We are not sure if our car will be totaled, but if it is this would be the 2nd car accident in 2 years where we were hit and our car got totaled. On top of this we were supposed to travel to Ohio to visit my sister, but with injuries this prevented us from our plans. Of course I was frustrated all weekend because this accident threw a monkey wrench in my plans. I hate when my plans are ruined. My wife on the other hand turned and told me that maybe this happened for a reason, maybe we weren’t supposed to make that trip to Ohio. Hard words to hear and of course frustrating. My response is that God does not work that way. He does not cause pain or suffering to advance His plans. However, maybe I’m wrong???

So this morning I was reading Joseph’s story when he was already ruling in Egypt and his brothers were trying to get food during the famine. If you don’t remember, Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery when he was younger and through the plans of God, and Joseph’s faith, Joseph rose to power. Now when his brothers came to Egypt to buy food they did not recognize Joseph, but Joseph recognized them. He arrested them and kept Simeon. Then sent the rest of his brothers home till they brought back Benjamin the youngest brother. Long story short… Benjamin comes back with the rest of the brothers to Egypt and Joseph reveals himself as their brother. Believe me there is much more to the story which is found in Genesis.

What makes this story a good reflection is what Joseph says when he reveals himself to his brothers. Found in Genesis 45 Joseph says, “I’m your brother Joseph! The one you sold to Egypt. Now, don’t be upset and don’t be angry with yourselves that you sold me here. Actually, God sent me before you to save lives. We’ve already had two years of famine in the land, and there are five years left without planting and harvesting. God sent me before you to make sure you’d survive. And to rescue your lives in this amazing way. You didn’t send me here; it was God who made me a father to Pharaoh, master of his entire household, and ruler of the whole land of Egypt.” Isn’t that interesting, Joseph does not blame his brothers for his slavery, he give responsibility to God. It was God’s plan for Joseph to be a slave so that lives would be saved.

Now, Joseph was sent into slavery to save Israel, God’s chosen people. I will never assume that my accident and frustration means that much. However, it made me think… Maybe my wife was right. Sometimes God, to further his plans, might cause frustration in our lives so that others could be saved. What if we did take that trip to Ohio and there was a much bigger car accident that God saw? Maybe something worse would have happened on our trip. We could play the “what if” game all we want, but the fact remains that it is entirely possible that God causes one thing to save us from another.

Many times we do not see it this way in the moment. That usually comes in hindsight. Nor will I ever believe that God causes things like cancer or illness to further His plans. I believe that God does use these things to create good, but does not cause pain for the sake of good. For me that would be like saying we should sin so that grace can increase. No, I can’t go that far with God (of course I am always open to being corrected by the Holy Spirit even on this issue). That being said, I can recognize that sometimes our frustrations should be seen in light of God’s greater glory. Jesus said that we are blessed even in persecution (Matt. 5). No matter the situation, our faith should always seek to bring glory to God. Our frustrations, pain, illness, bad situations, and ruined plans should always have a spirit to bring God glory. When we try and do this in our lives then no matter what happens, we recognize that God is at work and His plans are always in our favor. Faith believes that God has our best interest in His heart, even when we don’t understand the big picture. May God help you see His plans in your frustration.

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