Imagine being on the verge of success:
One project away from a promotion.
A single class standing between you and graduation.
Seven days till your wedding day.
Eight hours between you and the start of your vacation.
You’re so close, you can see the finish line. But then, tragedy strikes, failure sweeps in, and your plans take a dive for the worst.
What do you do?
Do you QUESTION why it happened?
Do you DENY that you deserved it?
Do you BLAME God for allowing it to happen?
Do you FORGET that God is sovereign and just?
Do you RESIST and REBEL against authority?
Do you GRIEVE God with your response?
The Israelites were guilty of ALL of the above (Numbers 14:1-4, 39-45).
In Deuteronomy 1, we find the Israelites on the edge of entering the Promised Land. All that stands between them is the Jordan River. They were so close, they could see the finish line. And with a blink of an eye, it was all gone.
Why? The Israelites doubted God’s power. They questioned His intentions. In their fear, they forgot His promise and His faithfulness. For that, they were punished severely (Numbers 13-14).
Are we also like the Israelites? Do we question, deny, blame, forget, resist, rebel, and dishonor God when our plans go awry? When they are challenged? When our circumstances look more bleak and increasingly difficult?
The Israelites were 20-days’ travel from the Promised Land, but because of their grumbling and lack of faith, the 20 days became 40 years. Not only that, but every man and woman twenty years and older was promised death within those forty years.
The Israelites’ response to God’s judgement?
r e b e l l i o n
and straight up
d i s o b e d i e n c e.
They tried to make up for their sin of doubting God, but the time for this had already passed and a new command had been given to them, which they refused to heed (Numbers 14:39-45).
We’re not so different from the Israelites, are we? How many times have we watched success fall just out of our reach because of our lack of faith in Him? How many times have we allowed fear to dictate our actions rather than the Word of God and the confidence we have in Him? And after failing, how many times have we tried to “make up for” our sin of doubting God only to find that God simply required repentance and obedience – not an effort to undo what we had already done.
When God disciplines us, it is to grow us in Him – not to make us scramble to catch up to an opportunity we’ve already missed. If He wants us to revisit a situation, He’ll make that abundantly clear to us. But we also have to be ready to hear His voice when He tells us to take a different course of action.
When success is shot by tragedy, whether caused by our sin and failures or not, our response matters. In these moments, we must QUESTION what God wants us to learn from our situation. We must DENY ourselves of pride and self-pity. We must understand that Christ willingly and joyfully took the BLAME for us. We must FORGET self and look to Him. We must RESIST and REBEL against the flesh always. We must GRIEVE the devil’s plans with humble repentance and joyful obedience to the Lord.
Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. | Revelation 3:19
For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. | Hebrews 12:11
The Lord disciplines us because He loves us and wants to make us more like Him.
This is the process of s a n c t i f i c a t i o n .
Though often painful and uncomfortable, it is always for our good and His glory.
Next time we find ourselves on the verge of success and tragedy ensues, let’s
G R O W.
Even if we did nothing wrong to deserve the interruption of our plans, let’s welcome these opportunities for the sake of our sanctification in Him.