Have you ever noticed how often we want God to rescue us from the consequences of our choices? Sometimes the passion with which we ask is almost demanding.
Believe me, there have been many times when I have petitioned the Lord to soften the blow or the long-lasting impact of my sinful, hurtful, mindless words or actions toward another person. In those instances I am imploring God to rescue my victim(s) from the consequences of my choices.
But that is not what I am talking about. I am referring to the moments when I have made a personal, culpable decision resulting in words or actions that produce injury or pain and warrant personal consequences – and I come quickly to the Lord and ask Him to rescue me from whatever penalty or impact is coming my way – and am tempted to be angry, or at least disappointed, with Him should He not.
My question is, why should He?
Oh, it is not unlike God to answer my request. But what right have I to expect (or heaven forbid, demand) Him to do so?
I was in session with a man some time back who had committed a crime. The police were involved, he was awaiting arraignment and could quite possibly be sentenced to prison for a season. He shared that many family and friends were interceding on his behalf, asking the Lord for grace and mercy (translated, please rescue me from the consequences of my choices).
I looked at him and quietly said, “God has already answered that prayer; He has already shown you grace and mercy.”
He was a bit shocked, I think. He commented that he had not even gone to court yet so how could God have already answered that prayer? I simply stated, “Because of Jesus you will not go to hell for this crime. That is grace and mercy.”
He rebutted that he was talking about what happened in court. The following dialogue followed:
- “Is it against the law to do what you did?” “Yes.”
- “Does the law have an identified penalty for this crime?” “Yes.”
- “Did you do it?” “Well, yes.”
- “Then why should God rescue you from the consequences?”
- “Pastor Jim, this is not a very encouraging discussion.”
I knew this was not what he wanted to hear. Don’t we all want the pastor to say, “Don’t worry, God is going to make it all better” when we sin? “But doesn’t God work all things together for good for those who love Him?” Absolutely – and sometimes He does it while a person is in prison.