I've had no less than four or five conversations around this general topic recently, so I decided to say something about it. Although I have several friends I want to say this to, the primary audience for this speech today is me. I spent all of yesterday in a fatalistic funk. Today, I'm choosing to make a new choice.
You are not living the life you live because of fate. Period.
|Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash|
God. The Stars. Fate. They did not create the hardships you face today. There were some factors outside of you that contributed, often in major ways. But you ultimately choose how you will respond from today forward, not Fate.
Fatalism: a doctrine that events are fixed in advance so that human beings are powerless to change them. WebstersFatalism is exactly the opposite of Truth. God empowers you, he does not disempower you. If you believe you are the way you are, living the life you live, because of Fate, you are believing a LIE of Satan. That lie is keeping you bound instead of setting you free, as God intended.
Fatalism and Job
People often mention Job, the oldest book in the Bible. Poor old Job. Suffering Job. I've studied that book more than any other book. I've read it and nothing else for about three years straight once. Here are a few things to consider:
- Job was blessed, he lived a RICH and blessed life before the hardship arrived. He wasn't "suffering for Jesus" as some religious people say. He was blessed.
- Job suffered TEMPORARILY. Most Hebrew scholars agree that the duration of his suffering was probably about nine months, less than one year. He didn't suffer forever, indefinitely. His suffering had a clear beginning and an even clearer end.
- Job was Re-Blessed. He was restored at the end of his suffering with a double portion. His end was more blessed than his beginning. Suffering did not mark Job's entire existence, it marked a season and a season only. God's will is not never-ending suffering for any of his kids, not even Job.
- Debatable Opinion: The following are my opinion, but they're supported by scripture, I think.
- Satan has been after Job long before we start scene one. Throughout the story, even before the first calamity, we see "curse God" is on Job's mind. That's Satan's attempt to get to Job. We see it in his sacrifices to his kids, in his wife's words, in his own words, in his friend's words. It's literally the entire struggle inside of Job during the whole story. He's trying desperately not to curse God, but still work out the suffering questions.
- Job broke his own hedge. The Bible says that whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. Job's sacrifices daily were not from faith, but fear. You can see "what if my kids cursed God?" is on his mind. Fear broke down Job's hedge.
- God did NOT hand job over to satan. God said, "Have YOU considered my servant job?" He wasn't bringing Job to satan's attention he was pointing out a fact that already existed. Satan had been considering Job, see the bullet above. When God said, "He's in your hands" wasn't him handing Job over, he was acknowledging the hedge was already down. God won't lie for anyone, not even his favorite kids.
Instead of looking to Fate or God or "reasons for the suffering", let's take a look at the real reasons hardships and "bad" come.
This World Is Broken
This is a broken world. It broke in Genesis 3 and won’t be fully restored until AFTER the Tribulation and Millennial Reign of Christ. We’re a minimum of 1,007+ years from the permanent restoration of all things. In the meantime, we live in a broken world.
The answer to “Why do bad things happen?” is simple, but wholly unsatisfying to the part of us looking for a "reason" for things.
In a broken world, things break. Period.
Bad things didn’t come to teach you a lesson. God didn’t need another angel. Nothing that happened was to make a point or example of you, in you, or through you.
Bad things happen because we live in a broken world and in a broken world, things break. Period. That’s it. That’s the whole answer…. Except, there’s a component of the brokenness that requires some extra attention.
Free Will Means Choices
Despite what some well-meaning but very mistaken Calvinists would tell you, Free Will is the epicenter of the Human Experience.
God did not make robots. He does not make our choices for us. He WILL NOT make our choices for us. He flat refuses. He’s so committed to free will that he is willing to let Hell be the result for millions who choose it. He's so committed to free will that he gave his son so that we would always have a choice and never be bound by "fate".
But how does this complicate our Broken World?
Sometimes we suffer from other people’s choices
Other people choose things. They may choose to make you an omelet or hit you with the frying pan. Either way, they chose. There are things in their life or heart that influenced their choices. There are things we sometimes do to influence their choices.
In most cases, their choices were made completely independent of us and there was nothing we could do to stop their choices.
The drunk driver didn’t crash into that car to teach you a lesson or make you more patient. The drunk driver made a broken choice and you suffered the consequences of another human's free will.
Maybe you suffer from a combination of other's choices. A person decided not to take care of themselves the way they should and the doctor missed an opportunity to address an issue that was major, and the person died... I'm living in this one right now.
It sucks, sometimes we suffer from other people’s choices.
Sometimes we suffer from our own choices
You jumped off a ledge and broke your leg. God isn’t trying to teach you anything. You simply made a choice and suffered a consequence of that choice.
We make choices. You slept with someone and got pregnant. You swung that golf club without stretching and pulled a muscle in your back. You ignored the feeling in your gut that said to turn left and ended up in a fender-bender.
You did something you knew had a possible outcome and that outcome came. You ignorantly did something you didn't know would have an outcome but the outcome came anyway because ignorance doesn't excuse you from consequences.
The answer is not “Why are you giving me this __(fill in the blank)__, God? You know how stressed I am already!”
The answer is “I made a choice, and now I have a consequence. This may turn out to be bittersweet and beautiful in the end, but it’s a simple consequence nonetheless. God isn’t trying to teach me anything, he didn’t give me this to make an example of me, he’s not trying to show me anything…”
It’s a simple (sometimes awful, sometimes profound) consequence of a choice.
Stop looking for meaning or purpose in “bad things” and start looking for opportunities.
Once we know that bad things happen for no other “reason” than we live in a broken world and in a broken world, things break; we can stop looking for “why” or “what are you trying to teach me” and simply accept that it happened and grieve the losses associated.
Once we know that Free Will adds a component to this broken world because often Free Will leads to broken choices, we can begin to accept that some things just are; and we can stop blaming God for Human Choices.
Once we accept that some things happened to us because someone else made a choice we couldn’t stop them from making; we can grieve what was taken from us.
Once we accept that some of our own choices led to some of our own consequences; we can repent of those choices and either ask God to heal them or make peace with living with those thorns.
Once we accept this broken world is full of free will, we can grieve the losses. However, there's a flip side. Because we're not subject to "fate", and we do live in a world of Free Choices, we can grab a hold of a silver lining that turns out to be a rope and not just a thread.
The result of facing these realities is more empowerment
Once we stop blaming God, or Fate, or looking for "reasons why", once we stop resigning ourselves to the outcomes we've lived because "I guess it was meant to be"; we can start to take responsibility for making new choices from today forward with the opportunities in front of us.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
We are living in a combination of Broken World, Other's Broken Choices, and Our Broken Choices. That's the reality we cannot change.
We do have choices in front of us we can begin to take advantage of, even if we are not yet awake enough to our reality to see them. That's the reality about the things we can change.
We must now take a good, hard, honest, sober look at our circumstances, weigh the consequences of each choice, then make a decision. When the consequence (good or bad) hits, we do not blame God or Fate, we say:
"I made a choice, this is the outcome of that choice. Now what choice will I make next?"
Free Will is the key to our Free Will ProblemsWe suffer because we live in a broken world full of free-willed people making freely willed choices, some of those choices were our own choices. But this knowledge also gives us the key we need to move forward empowered.
We are free-willed people. We can make new choices. And if we start getting wise input from safe people in our lives, and from God himself, we can begin to walk out new choices and take empowered responsibility for the next phase.
From this moment forward, you are not living in Fate. You are making choices. You may have been dealt some SUCKY hands that lead you to today. You may, in fact, be living in the worst life anyone could have. But you still have choices. It's time to start making some. Start small. Choose one thing. Then another.
Shalom: Live Long and Prosper!
Clifton StrengthsFinder: Intellection, Learner, Ideation, Achiever, Input
16Personalities (Myers-Briggs Type): INFJ