It drove Erik crazy that, as a father of four children, he didn’t receive good parenting instruction until his kids were in their teens.
Aaron and Robin wished they had known, in the first twenty years of their marriage, what they came to discover later.
Olivia came to Christ much later in life and struggled with the legacy of her past.
Jeremiah looks back with sadness, knowing that he inherited significant money before he was mature enough to steward it well.
Each of these people that I have counseled struggled with regret. But perhaps more significantly, they wrestled with something else: resting in the sovereignty of God’s timing.
The Bible teaches there is no situation, relationship, or circumstance that our Heavenly Father does not control. He has carefully administrated every detail in the story of our lives.
Acts 17:26-27 – “And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us.”
Ephesians 1:11 – “In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.”
Colossians 1:16-17 – “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
Proverbs 16:33 – “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.”
Lamentations 3:37-39 – “Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come? Why should a living man complain, a man, about the punishment of his sins?”
Now, his absolute control is exercised in such a way that it never turns you into a robot. He accomplishes his sovereignty through the choices that you and I make. His sovereignty does not invalidate our choices, and our choices do not remove his sovereignty.
In the operation of the universe, the issue of the sovereignty of God and our responsibility is never an either-or; it is always a both-and. So, we are called to believe, choose, follow, worship, love, and obey, while at the same time entrusting ourselves and our life to God’s sovereign care.
We can live responsibly and confidently, knowing that we are accountable for the choices we make while at the same time knowing that God controls the details of our life for our good and his glory. This balance is critical as you look back on your life with regret.
Resting in the sovereignty of God’s timing goes hand in hand with enjoying the freedom of confession and embracing the gift of forgiveness that I wrote about last week. You can confess your responsibility for what you did, knowing that it has been fully paid for by the blood of Christ, all while resting in God’s sovereign timing.
God is the definition of true wisdom. He is the author of order. His timing is always right. He never does something too early or too late. He always decides what is best and when is best. He always knows when to act, when to speak, when to wait, and when to withdraw.
And in mercy, he always responds to our cries for help at the right moment.
Look back at your regrets with honesty and humility, but do not forget that it has all happened under his control. He is always wise, loving, good, righteous, and on time!
Paul David Tripp
1. What do you wish you knew earlier in your life that you now know later with age? How would that have changed any decisions you made when you were younger?
2. How can hindsight and experience from previous mistakes help you make wiser, God-honoring decisions moving forward? Think practically. How can you apply that to your situations, locations, and relationships today?
3. Consider all the good that has come about because of where you are now as a result of the trajectory of your life when you were younger. How has God yielded fruit in your life despite foolish decisions and selfish regrets?
4. Are there any mistakes you made that you are not taking responsibility for? Why are you struggling to be accountable for your sins? Who, or what, are you blaming instead?
5. Are you currently doubting God’s timing and authority in anything? What would you change if you were in control? Why is it better for the Lord to remain sovereign and not us? Be specific and use this as an opportunity to trust the Lord.