Thomas Edison hit his stride during the industrial age when most gadgets we take for granted were just being dreamed up. From our vantage point, we know Edison as the inventor of the record player, light bulb, and motion pictures. But during his lifetime, he had to live through years of trial and error. In the midst of it, he stayed positive. One famous quote attributed to him is this:
“I have not failed 1,000 times. I have successfully discovered 1,000 ways to NOT make a light bulb.”
I love his winning spirit. It’s great to give yourself a pep talk even in moments of frustration.
However, a number of times when I’ve openly expressed regret, some well-meaning person tries to dress it up for me. “Well, God must be holding something better behind His back.” Or, “Everything happens for a reason,” or “God won’t put on you more than you can handle.”
It’s best not to rush people towards Romans 8:28. In a fallen world, things happen that just simply are not good, or not as good. Sometimes it’s even our own fault and we need to face it. We need to learn how to deal with what might have been without pretending what happened is okay.
Your God is too small
Instead of running block for the providence of God (as if He needed defending) could it be that God’s sovereignty is much more dynamic? We often talk as though some bad thing is actually good so that we can protect a very static few of the will of God. The sovereignty of God does not need assistance, nor is it affected by our bad choices. A healthy response to regret requires a bigger view of God.
Try, Fail, Learn
It’s not faithless to have regrets. It is faithless to live there without learning from them. We have freedom to choose any number of paths, and sometimes we or others around us misuse it. And there are consequences. It doesn’t mean God stands by scratching His head wondering how to fix what happened to His perfect plan. He is sovereign through all circumstances. Reminds me of the title of a new book by John Maxwell: Sometime You Win, Sometimes You Learn.
So, regret is not the final word on the matter, but sometimes it’s the honest one. “We grieve, but not in the same way as people who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13).
What helps you see the bigger picture in moments of regret?
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