It’s sometimes hard to understand why God allows one person to come into something and yet not another. For instance, why does that person get the job we didn’t get? Why does someone get a financial windfall we could really use? There are a host of other things we could think of where we could ask, “Why not me, God?” The point is, we may never fully understand. For instance, why was Isaac chosen and not Ishmael?
And God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. I will bless her, and moreover, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.” Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, “Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before you!” God said, “No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him. As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I have blessed him and will make him fruitful and multiply him greatly. He shall father twelve princes, and I will make him into a great nation. But I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this time next year.” – Genesis 17:15-21, ESV
By all rights, it should have been Ishmael. He was first born. He would be 14 years older. And if we look at the situation of his birth, it wasn’t his fault. He didn’t choose to be born in those circumstances. Yet God chose Isaac. However, since Ishmael was a son of Abraham, God promised to bless him and increase his offspring, too. He just wouldn’t be in the line of promise. But you know, God doesn’t always choose what folks want or according to the traditions of man. If God did, Ishmael would have been chosen. If God did, Esau would have been the one picked. If God did, then David wouldn’t have stood a chance. For that matter, neither would Solomon. But God isn’t bound by what we want. And God isn’t bound by our traditions and our methods. This was a point Jesus tried over and over again to make to the religious leaders of His day: it’s not about your tradition but it’s about My instruction.
When we look at some of the choices, we can understand why God may have passed over this person or that person. But when it comes to ourselves, we’re usually terribly shortsighted. We don’t see our faults the way He sees them. We don’t know how a particular “blessing” will change us. And sometimes we don’t get that what we see as a blessing from God isn’t. Rather, it’s a lure of this world, probably caused by the current ruler of it. Also, we can’t see that our present circumstances prepare us for a future situation. We can only see that we didn’t get what we want.
Here’s the interesting thing: neither did Jesus. At least, neither did the part of Jesus that was fully man. Think about His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Not My will but Yours be done.” The mortal side of Christ didn’t want the Cross. What mortal would? But the Godly side of Jesus knew it was necessary. And He confirmed it with the Father and He went forth and sacrificed Himself for our sins. He honored the Father’s will and put aside his own want to avoid the pain and suffering and to avoid the Cross. He embraced His divinity and He went forth and became our salvation. But He only did it by giving up His “rights” and His choice. Imagine if He had left the garden that night before the mob got there. He could have slipped away and no one would have been the wiser as to where He would have gone. He could have ensured that. However, He stayed. He was arrested. Then He was tried, tortured and killed. All for us. All to save us.
The key here is not to dwell on what we didn’t get. It’s not to get stuck wondering why God didn’t deliver what we want. We can ask for an explanation, sure. But we can’t be trapped in an attitude of ingratitude, of resentment, and of disappointment with God. If we could see with His eyes and know what He knows, we’d understand better. We’d get why He did what He did or didn’t do what He chose not to do. If it will be of value to us, God will reveal the reasoning, but in His time. Instead of being disappointed with God and finding ourselves resentful, let us instead think about what He has given us. If you’ve never done this exercise, when you’ve got some time prayerfully list all the blessings you can think of in your life, big and small. Write them down. Really take some time to think about them. What you’ll likely find is that you don’t have enough time. Or that your hand is tired from all that writing. The point is we can get so trapped by what we didn’t get that we totally miss what we have. Not every blessing is for us and we are better for it. Thank you, Lord, for only giving me what is beneficial for me.