Sarah Rieke » Living. Loving. Pressing on.

The Tyranny of Choice

The title of chapter twenty-one in Angie Smith’s book, Mended.  She presented the concept that, with all the choices we are given in this first-world life, the majority of us feel entitled to only be surrounded with the things that please us most and make us most comfortable.  And if something proves to be unpleasant or uncomfortable, our society gives us so many opportunities to get out.  You know the department store, Kohl’s, has a no-questions-asked returns policy?  You can literally return a pair of shoes weeks after purchasing them if they somehow, later down the road, prove to be unworthy of wearing.  Good customer service, absolutely.  But you see my point.  

Angie Smith says this:

I’ve been convicted and overwhelmed over the nature of humanity and the fickleness that is bred by entitlement.

Entitlement.  With all the choices available to us and the opportunities to separate ourselves from that which does not completely satisfy, we tend to live with feelings of entitlement.  And surely, if something leads to an unpleasant outcome, we have made the wrong choice.  

I am here to tell you about a time when my husband and I made the right choice, what we believed to be God’s choice, and it was terribly unpleasant and uncomfortable. 

I’m talking about choosing to have a second baby.  And you know the end of that story.  

Josh and I felt led to have another baby.  Getting pregnant with that baby took no time at all.  Things seemed to be coming along nicely until halfway through the pregnancy when we learned of Evie’s diagnosis.  She would not live.  This baby that we thought God wanted us to have would not live.

I very clearly remember crying to my mother-in-law the evening we found out.  I remember saying to her, “I thought this was what we were supposed to do!  We didn’t know.  Should we have made a different choice?”

She told me sympathetically, “Oh honey, we don’t know about life.  Only God does.  We just live and then trust Him with the rest.”

From the book, Anything:

Somewhere in my life I picked up the idea that if things did not feel right or fall perfectly into place, God was not in them.  I thought obeying God should feel pretty easy and convenient.  …but if obeying seemed too uncomfortable, I likely would have decided this wasn’t from God.  Where did I get that?

God wanted us to have Evie.  He wanted Josh and I to experience the soul-wrenching pain of anticipating our daughter’s death and then watching her die in our arms.  He wanted us to grow through it all.  This was His plan.  

I am here to tell you that just because a life choice presents difficulties, it is not always the wrong choice.  Of course, if you give your life over to sin and then lose money, homes, friends, and families, and then wonder why things are so difficult, I think it would be safe to say you made the wrong choice.  But I’m talking about people who, after much prayerful consideration, do what they believe to be God’s will and then are asked to carry a huge burden or wade through murky waters.  Sometimes it happens and it’s ok.  You didn’t make the wrong choice, you made the right choice.  It’s just not always easy.  

In a world where we can return merchandise long after its “brand new” status has been lost, we become accustomed, entitled, to the idea that we weren’t meant for discomfort and, any circumstance that causes us to wring our hands should be promptly eliminated. 

But that’s not always God’s way.  

Again, Jennie Allen, from her book, Anything:

If God did not give us and our kids a safe and comfortable life, was He holding out on us?

No.  No, He isn’t.  But that has become our expectation.  If we lived in a place where Christians are routinely beaten, brutalized, and imprisoned for their faith, we would absolutely not have that expectation.  But, in the land of a thousand choices, the expectation is very different.

Trials are hard, this is true.  But they also make us.  They bring us closer to the Lord.  They make us ambassadors for the only Kingdom that really matters.  A soon-to-depart missionary from our church recently showed us that the word “fun” appears zero times in Scripture.  God isn’t in the business of making our lives fun, He is in the business of building disciples.  And, the majority of the time, true disciples are born out of adversity.  

Let’s purpose our hearts to not become entitled to the chiefest comforts because of our overabundant choices.  Let’s be committed to God’s will – the good and the hard – and praise Him for it all.

**It seems my use of the word “want” (God wanted us to experience losing Evie) was cause for concern to some.  I don’t believe God wants suffering in our lives in the same way we want a tropical vacation.  He derives no pleasure in it nor does He enjoy watching His children endure it.  But, He does want certain sufferings in our lives if they will mold us more into the vessel He desires us to be, bring Him glory, and accomplish work for His Kingdom. God doesn’t want suffering for us any more than we want to discipline our dear children (I am not saying suffering is punishment, just using an example).  I must discipline my son because I know if I don’t, his sin will take over and he will be a very unpleasant little boy.  I take no pleasure in disciplining him, but I know it is necessary to tame his naturally foolish behaviors.  Likewise, God doesn’t desire his children to enter into needless suffering, but He knows it is a necessary tool to make us into more Christ-like vessels.  God wants suffering for us because He ultimately wants to work all things for good, and oftentimes suffering is a part of His plan.  But I do not believe He derives any pleasure from it whatsoever and would do anything to one day give us the opportunity to live suffering-free, which is why He sent us Jesus.  

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