Have you ever done something you regret? Ever made a poor decision that had long-lasting consequences?
Ever done something without praying or seeking counsel only to have it backfire on you? And now years later you continue to pay the price. Or worse yet, maybe others now suffer because of your sins or failures. Your children or spouse. It’s so easy to be filled with regret when you think about it.
Maybe you weren’t saved at the time. Or were a young believer. Maybe you gave in to a momentary temptation. Or made a decision believing it was God’s will, and found out later it was a terrible decision. And now you’re stuck with the consequences.
What can we do?
First, we must trust the sovereignty of God. God is sovereign over all things, even sin. And for a believer, God causes ALL things to work together for good – ALL things – including our sins, bad decisions, mistakes and failures. Even if we must suffer painful consequences, God is working all things for our good.
After Joseph’s father died, his brothers feared he’d take revenge for selling him into Egyptian slavery. Rather than ask Joseph’s forgiveness, they lie and say before dad died he told us to ask you to forgive us. Then they come to Joseph, fall down and offer themselves as servants.
But Joseph, who understands God’s sovereignty, replies:
“Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. (Genesis 50:19-20)
Joseph forgave their sin against him because he knew that God’s sovereign intention for their sin was to get him to Egypt and position him to provide for multitudes – including his brothers’ families – in a famine. Joseph could see how God caused all things to work for his good and the good of many.
How about his brothers? Yes, they should have been sad about their sin and asked Joseph’s forgiveness. But they also should have marveled that God would work their sins not only for Joseph’s good, but for THEIR good and their children’s good as well.
The most astounding example of God using evil for good is the Cross.
What men meant for evil, God intended to bring about the salvation of multitudes. Our sins nailed Jesus to the cross, where he suffered immeasurably. But God worked the evil of the cross for our good. For there Jesus paid for sins and purchased forgiveness and all the benefits of salvation.
Had Adam never sinned, humans would be living in paradise. But we wouldn’t be adopted sons of God, joined to Christ, have God himself dwelling in us, or be conformed to Christ. Sinners who have received Jesus have far more than Adam had before he sinned. God is so infinitely great, he took the worst thing that ever happened to the world and worked it for the good of multitudes – all to his glory and praise.
So though we may have to deal with long-lasting consequences of sin or bad decisions, we must put them in our sovereign God’s hands and trust he’ll work even our failures for our good and his glory. We must focus on GOD, not our sins. We must fix our eyes on his infinite greatness. He is infinitely greater than sin. And he will be victorious in the end.