King David was not a perfect person. And though he had a deep love for God, David took some very self-centered actions—such as sleeping with a trusted warrior’s wife and then having that man killed in battle to cover up his misdeed. It was not one of the great king’s brightest moments, and considerable chaos resulted.
Also, David loved his family, but did not always exercise wisdom in dealing with his children—especially his son Absalom. Right under his father’s eye, Absalom gathered an army of malcontents and led a rebellion against the king. Not only was David’s reign endangered, his very life hung in the balance.
The Perfect Advisor
Absalom had a brilliant counselor, Ahithophel, who recommended that he hunt down his exhausted father to put a quick end to the coup attempt. However, another adviser named Hushai—who was secretly aligned with David—recommended the opposite. Hushai’s counsel was accepted, sparing the king’s life and allowing his reign to continue. Ahithophel’s response to his rejected counsel is of particular note:
When Ahithophel realized that his advice had not been followed, he saddled his donkey and set out for his house in his hometown. He set his affairs in order and hanged himself. So he died and was buried in his father’s tomb. 2 Samuel 17:23 (HCSB)
Not only was Ahithophel’s response tragic, it also reveals the man’s short-sightedness. The story gives us the impression that he was always the guy with the answers and that his advice had never been disregarded. As a result, he could not see how good might come out of a seemingly bad situation.
In addition to having a name that is difficult to pronounce, Ahithophel had seemingly fixated on the need for a perfect life. David, on the other hand, had discovered the secrets to a blessed life. Ahithophel could not handle his visions of perfection falling short, and so he tragically hung himself. David, meanwhile, worked through his struggles, trusting the Lord and abiding in His favor.
The Problem with Fixating
Our human inclination to control can be confusing and manifests itself in a variety of ways. When situations are especially unpleasant, we often fixate, playing mental reruns with the vain hope of proving ourselves right, bringing ill upon the perpetrator of an injustice, or gaining a better outcome.
For my part, I grew up fixated on all that was wrong in my world. And because it took a long time for my circumstances to improve, that fixation became ingrained in my thinking. My blind eyes could not see a good God at work, or even the potential for Him to bring good out of my bad.
I never vocalized a hatred for the Lord, but in my heart I blamed Him for all my woes. After all, if the Creator of all things was truly loving and truly all powerful, He would have never given me an existence that was far more miserable than practically all my peers. The real truth is that I was blind not only to the Lord’s love and power, but also His wisdom.
The Most Amazing Promise Ever
In those days, I do not think I ever heard of Romans 8:28—one of the most comforting and hope filled promises ever given:
We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 (HCSB)
This is an amazing promise for every Christian! By learning to accept the unchangeable things in our lives, and simply by loving and trusting God, we help set the stage for Him to mysteriously extract good from evil. And the more evil or pitiful the situation, the more good He will accomplish.
Accepting What We Can’t Change
My fixation with all that was wrong in my life was an expression of both unbelief and self-centered rebellion. I did not believe in God loved me as much as He did others, revealing my lack of belief in His goodness. Nor was I willing to allow Him to have His way in my life. A hope-filled future could only come my way and according to my wisdom. The unintended result was that I, myself, was standing in the way of a hope-filled future.
We cannot change the past. We cannot change the parents who brought us into this world. Or the neighborhood we grew (or are still growing) up in. Or our basic looks or abilities—or our lack thereof. Nor can we go back and change the wrong things that were done to us, or the wrong things we ourselves have done.
A Blessed Life or a Unicorn Existence?
And even if we have never known deep trauma or real difficulty, the idea of a perfect life is much like the mythical unicorn. You will not find an actual picture of a unicorn because they do not exist.
No human is perfect. Nor is this world perfect. If your goal is for a perfect marriage, a perfect family, or a perfect life, disappointment will take root in your soul, and you will grow blind to the good that you have been given.
Life in this world can never be perfect—in spite of well-crafted marketing message or our romantically inspired visions. Often, we are fed the expectations that a spouse will always want what we want, like what we like, and feel what we feel. Reality is rarely so ideal. That is no cause for despair, however, because a life blessed by heaven is far better.
I do not know how He does it, but the sovereign King of Glory can use anything and everything—even our shortcomings—to accomplish His divine purposes. The secret lies in letting go of our unicorn expectations for a perfect life and embracing the Lord’s promises to bless.
No person or circumstance or handicap can invalidate the Lord’s good plans and purposes for each of our lives.
Do you seek a perfect life? You will exhaust yourself trying to make it happen. Do you want peace and real fulfillment? Let go of mythical expectations, accept what you cannot change, and trust the Almighty God to bring the best out of even the worst.
The goal, my friends is not to hold onto an elusive, frail image of a perfect life, but to allow the Lord to extract good from evil so that we might experience His mysterious, yet ever abundant, blessings.
*Bob Santos has authored several books, and this post is drawn from an upcoming work titled The Search for Rest.