Did I make the right investment?
Did I hire the right person?
Did I exit the market at the right time?
Did I save up enough for my retirement?
Did I marry the right person?
Did I make the right decision?
We constantly ask ourselves whether we had made the right decisions. Consciously or otherwise we tend to measure the ‘rightness’ of our decisions by holding it against the standards of the world, or at the very least, the proverbial Joneses next door. Success may even be relativistic, as the anecdote goes: one simply does not have to be faster than the lion one is running from, just faster than the next person. We try to maximise or optimise the conditions that we believe would help bring about success for ourselves. What questions would you ask when things look like they are falling apart?
Did I follow the right god?
Perhaps that was what the Israelites in the Book of Judges were asking, as they were confronted with the harsh realities of life. Perhaps one might have thought of how life may be so much ‘convenient’ or ‘simpler’ or ‘pleasurable’ or ‘beneficial’ by following the Baal and the Ashtaroth, the gods of Syria, Sidon, Moab, the Amorites and the Philistines. Whatever the reason, their forsaking of the Lord served only to lead to national and personal decline as evident in the Book of Judges.
What, then, are we to make of the situation when the path of the righteous deviates with the path of least resistance?
The Bible has this to say about what we are to do, when confronted with a dilemma (Philippians 4:4 -7):
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
5 Let your graciousness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.
6 Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.
7 And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Here are some guidelines to consider:
Take on an Eternal Perspective
We are called to take on an eternal perspective in our dealings. Ultimately, empires will rise and kingdoms do fall; every dog, we are promised, will eventually have its day. In a world of continually changing fortunes and alliances, only one thing remains unchanging: Our Eternal God.
No matter what our circumstances tell us, our Heavenly Father is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. He has declared Himself good and holy, an eternal Father who gives only good gifts and who works for the good of those who love Him. REJOICE in the Lord your God, take comfort in the promises that He has made to us, His children through Christ’s redemptive work.
Act with Boldness
“Every great oak tree started out as a nut who stood its ground”
It was said that the Apostle Paul while he was under the first house arrest in Rome, never stopped “proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance” (Acts 28:31). Such was the power of his conviction to preach the salvation of Jesus the Nazarene that he was compelled by his convictions to become obedient unto death by walking into captivity willingly. Multiple times.
A life that is without hindrances is not the same as a life that is free from obstacles or challenges. God did not promise us a life free from obstacles and challenges. He did, however, promise us that He and His resources have been made available to us and that He is rooting for us to overcome our obstacles and challenges. A life without hindrances is a life centred on Christ and guided by a laser-focused will that tunes out all other competing thoughts, wants and fears. A life that follows wholly after Jesus will find clarity in times of dilemma.
Learning to hope against hope
The Bible records in 2 Kings 7, 2 contrasting reactions when facing a dilemma: the first reaction of disbelief and cynicism of the court official; and the second reaction of hope, exemplified by the lepers. In that account, the disbelief of the court official led to his death, while the lepers, hoping against hope, found life. In hoping against hope, the lepers precipitated events that actually fulfilled Prophet Elisha’s prophecy and which led to the breaking of the siege. Truly a spectacular turn of events, one that flies in the face of conventional thinking.
But who can truly fathom the ways of God (Job 11:7)? The least of God’s thoughts are infinitely greater than our collective best. What we can know is this: He is the Good Father who will give good gifts, the God who saves, and who delivers us from our enemies!
He is the God who declared to Apostle Paul in Acts 23:11, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.” The same God that saw the Apostle through trials and persecution in the past and one who will see him through future trials and persecution.
Trust in God, for He will make a way for you. What have you got to lose?