One message of the Hebrew Bible’s book of Job is that God’s view of what our best interests are is based on His perspective, which is universal and all-encompassing; unlike our perspective, which is inherently limited and focused on our personal needs.
We all go through “dark tunnels” from time to time. It’s an unavoidable part of life. In my case, the estrangement from my daughter has been the most heart wrenching. A separation that I still do not fully understand why or how it happened, and one so complete that I have had no significant knowledge of anything that has been happening in her life for almost four years. In any such experience, we have an immediate desire to have the situation resolved. Unfortunately, Job teaches us that God does not think that way.
One thing I’ve learned from this experience is that when these things happen, God always seems to open up new doors for us as a result of it. If the relationship between my daughter and I had not been destroyed, I would still be sacrificing my own needs and life goals in the face of my desire to be the perfect Dad – as I’d been doing since she was born. In fact, I would have been working at it harder than ever. It was only through losing her that I slowed down enough to realize there were big holes in my own life, and eventually learn what I needed to do to fill them. Because of this I found my wife, who I firmly believe is truly the perfect life companion for me, and also because of this I am now going back to school. None of this would have happened if my daughter was still in the picture, and I would never have worked on what I needed to fulfill my own potential as a person or to pursue my goals and dreams.
Does this mean that I’m glad my daughter is estranged from me? No. But, I’ve come to see that God is using the situation to help me grow and become a better, happier person than I would otherwise have been. If He is doing this for me, then I can be certain he is doing the same for her: He is not worrying about how our relationship was twisted and destroyed. To God, what matters most is that we each acheive His plan for each of our lives within the context of His Great Plan for all. This enables me to forgive and forget the fear, misconceptions and perhaps even lies that led to our separation, and enables me to hope that someday she will be able to share in the joy, peace and happiness that is in my life now. But, even if she never does, he will take care of her, too – just as He has done for me.
Job’s message for me is that God is looking out for our interests, but is doing so in the context of the best interests for all of His Creation, and in the long term. That is not a terribly comforting thought when you’re in the middle of gutwrenching crisis. On the other hand, I’d rather have a God that does that, than one that caters to my own personal, immediate needs – or to the personal, immediate needs of others. God has a plan for all of creation: it is a comfort to know that I have a part in that plan, as does my daughter.
Copyright (c) 2009, Allen Vander Meulen III, all rights reserved. I’m happy to share my writings with you, as long as you are not seeking (or getting) financial benefit for doing so, and as long as proper credit for my authorship is given (via a credit that mentions my name or provides a link back to this site).