Many years ago I heard a phrase that I have used over and over again in conversations with other people and in my own life. The phrase is “God never wastes an experience.” I have no recollection of who I heard this from or I would give him or her credit but what I do know is that it is true and it has encouraged me in some of my darkest times. What exactly does it mean? Well, the meaning is simply that no matter what we have been through in the past or are experiencing in the present, we can be confident that God can use it in our lives!
Of course the phrase itself is not from the Bible, but the message is in essence found all throughout the word beginning in Genesis. In chapters 37, 39-50 we can read the incredible story of Joseph, son of Jacob who was sold into slavery in Egypt by his brothers, and then spent a long time in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. However, during his time as a slave and prisoner, God was preparing him for something great. From the time he was sold, Joseph went through numerous adverse situations, but through each of them he maintained his integrity and trusted God, and the scripture tells us that God was “with Joseph” in his difficult circumstances. In the end, Joseph was raised to second in command to the pharaoh and was responsible for saving thousands of people including his own family from starving to death during a devastating famine. When he finally meets up with his brothers again his words to them are not what the brothers expect: “But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? 20 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. (Gen. 50:19-20) Rather than being angry at them for what they did to him so many years ago, Joseph recognized that God took the bad situation and used it ! In other words, for those who trust in him, God never wastes an experience!
This incredible truth comes up again in many other places, but one of the most familiar is Paul’s reminder to the Romans: 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. The key phrase in this verse is “ALL THINGS “ which implies both good and bad circumstances in the hand of God can be turned into our good! An important point about this verse is that it follows a discussion about how to deal with suffering! In other words, when you are facing difficult times, you can KNOW that God will work through that to bring about good things. God never wastes an experience!
The essence of all of these phrases is God’s sovereignty. God’s sovereignty is the truth that He alone has the power, wisdom and authority to do anything He chooses. But, let’s remember that His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts, so that when things happen good or bad, we may not necessarily understand them! But, as we think about the Biblical story of Joseph and Paul’s letter to the Romans, we can KNOW that God makes good out of bad, that He uses all things in our lives to accomplish His purpose for us.! Yes, God never wastes an experience!
With this understanding, can we learn to face our current situation in quarantine with all of the circumstances that surround it with an attitude of confidence? Can we learn to see that in all things He is able to make it GOOD! This is not careless optimism; this is unconditional faith! To live in this is a daily decision, but the best option if we want to find joy in the midst of the storm.
So, God never wastes an experience, but do we? I mean, in the middle of this crazy situation where we are “stuck at home”, are we using this as a time to connect with God on a deeper level through Bible study, prayer, journaling…? Can we recognize the blessing of more family time, more time to help others? What about all of the times we have said, “if I only had more time”? I think today is a great time to decide to make the most of this experience, as we place our trust in the ONE who is WITH us and is sovereign over ALL THINGS!
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