If you are familiar with the book of Job, you would know that God allowed Satan to do whatever he wanted to to Job as long as he didn’t kill him. When Job’s family, livestock and health were all taken from him, we read, ‘At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised." In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.

Life doesn’t always happen quite the way we plan. But how we choose to deal with the unexpected changes in events will make all the difference on how it will affect us.

For those of you who don’t know, I applied to work with the non-profit Invisible Children while also working on hosting a screening of their documentary in my town. I was so passionate and excited for this job. I was prepared to pay to work for them for the whole summer rather than getting a real job and making money. But even after I had my interview, I didn’t get the job and now I have been without a job for a month and I don’t know why. I’ve sent out resumes to over 15 companies but just haven’t heard back from them. It’s definitely discouraging and I could choose to be really angry that things didn’t go the way I had planned, but the truth is that God’s plans are always so much bigger and greater than we could ever dream of for ourselves. The obstacle is however, when we don’t know what His plan is.

In church, a man was giving testimony and said that while in school in Toronto, things were really tough for him (whether back home, studies, health, a job, etc). He was visibly distressed causing a classmate who always kept to himself to approach him on his worse day and told him that he looked bad and that this guy could offer him something that would take away all the pain. It sounded good so he followed him after school through dark downtown alleyways and up stairs to an old apartment where a group of people were praying by candlelight. The experience he had there completely calmed him down and when he left, he knew that God led him there for a reason; to cure him. When he returned to school the next day and for the rest of the year, this mysterious classmate didn’t return back to class, he was never seen back there again. This man sharing his testimony knew that this classmate was placed in his life for a reason, and once he served the purpose God had for Him, he went on His way.

It’s true though, right? Some people are placed in our lives for just short time, but for a specific reason; and then they’re gone. But I want us to look at this situation from the classmate’s point of view. Why was he there, and why did he leave? Maybe it took him 3 years and a lot to sacrifice in order to afford being able to go to school. He was there for a while and got involved with this prayer circle which he was really loving. Meanwhile his sister was in the hospital and getting more and more sick from cancer, before he knew it he had to leave to go back home to be with his family during his sisters final days. She passed away and it really took its toll on him resulting in him dropping out of school and is still working through depression and methods of coping. It’s been a long journey but through a few special people being placed in his life, he’s well on his way to full recovery and is hoping to return back to school in a year.

You see? Some things happen in our lives that we just can’t explain or understand why. From this classmate’s point of view, he worked hard for something, and just when it started going well he lost his sister and dropped out of school. But through one of his last encounters while at school, he led a stranger to freedom and a better life in Christ, without even knowing it. Just as God places specific people in our lives for brief moments but with monumental influence, He also places us in other people’s lives for their sake and we may never even know about it.

I’m reminded of a scene from the movie, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Brad Pitt explains a huge long series of events that eventually leads to Cate Blanchett being struck by a vehicle. He states that if only one thing had happened differently, then she would not have been fine. He says that, “sometimes we’re on a collision course and we just don’t know it. Whether it’s by accident or by design, there’s not a thing we can do about it. But life being what it is, a series of intersecting lives and incidents, is out of anyone’s control.” I think there is some truth that can be drawn from this story. Situations happen, both good and bad, and everything has a part in influencing who we are today. Although we may not like what is happening right now, it’s part of a bigger story that we just haven’t read yet. Jeremiah 29:11 says ‘For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ Although we can’t see the whole picture but only see what’s happening in the here and now, God sees it all and has a plan. Whether that plan is in our best interest or the best interest of someone else and God is merely using us to help someone else; like the classmate example from before. I’m not saying that God plans for bad things to happen to us. Because of our sinful nature and God’s just nature, He allows for bad things to happen to us just like He allowed for Job, but He works in such a way that He can still be glorified through it all.

I can choose to be angry with God; discouraged and depressed that He didn’t get me a job with IC. I could regret not getting applications elsewhere earlier as a back-up plan, I could ask myself plenty of ‘what if’ questions regarding my answers in my interview with IC. But God didn’t allow me to go through all of this just so that I would be angry with Him, beat myself up, or wish I made different decisions. Regretting some decisions, however, is healthy because the Holy Spirit puts it on our hearts that we made a wrong choice, but allowing guilt to dwell in our minds is not from God; He offers freedom from that guilt.
He allowed me to go through all of this with IC so that His glory can be illuminated and so that I may grow deeper in relationship with Him. I am not working with IC for a reason; one which I don’t really know yet. But I am going to remain optimistic, hopeful and thankful to God even though my plans fell through as I remember Philippians 4:6-7 which says, ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’ I know that He see’s the bigger picture and I’ve got to trust that He allowed me to endure all that I did for a greater cause than to just be disappointed. And I’m eager to see what that reason is.

At the end of the book of Job, 40 chapters later, we read:
After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before. All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the Lord had brought upon him, and each one gave him a piece of silver and a gold ring.
The Lord blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the first. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. And he also had seven sons and three daughters. The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah and the third Keren-Happuch. Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job's daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers.