The God of a Second Chance
I began working in television in Milwaukee in 1978. While I’d never set out to do talk TV, I felt at home from the beginning, and being in the public eye gave me many opportunities to share my faith. Because it was fairly common knowledge in the community that I was a Christian, the publicity of going through a divorce was difficult. That winter, I went home at the end of each day to a cold, silent house. Emotionally depressed and grieved, I would then climb into bed with my hat, coat, and boots still on and sleep till morning.
I’m not sure when that heavy veil of grief and emptiness began to lift. But sometime that spring, I became aware of the sweet smell of the wet earth beginning to thaw, the songs of promise that were being sung with such abandon from every nest and perch. I began to move on. I had no intention of dating and no interest in pursuing a new relationship. Though I loved children, I had accepted that there would be none in my first marriage. I was in my 30s, and the prospect of marriage and a family seemed remote and unlikely. Yet God had other plans.
I met Andy Friedrich at a retirement celebration for a coworker. He had gone through a divorce a number of years before that, and after much floundering and searching, a friend had led him to Christ. But no one had discipled him, so he had little knowledge of the Scriptures and wasn’t in a church or study group of any kind. Initially we met to talk about the Lord. In time, I grudgingly conceded to a date, but not without apprehension.
Even though Andy was ready for a relationship, I was still gun-shy—so he simply waited. With tenderness and kindness and an incredible amount of patience, he broke down any barriers I’d put up. He was faithful, trustworthy, and committed to the Lord and to me. We were married a little more than a year after we’d begun dating.
The Lord used Andy in many ways to help heal old wounds in me. He offered both of us a new beginning, a clean slate, a hope, and a future. And I’m now a mom—not one, not two, but seven children, each a precious, unique gift from the Lord. God has surely given me more than I could hope for or ask.
The story of Joseph in the book of Genesis is one of my favorites. Sold by his brothers into slavery, taken to a foreign land, unfairly accused and imprisoned, and with little hope or expectation of ever seeing his family again, Joseph was in what seemed an impossible situation. Despite all that, the Bible says, “The Lord was with him.”
God allowed the testing to build character in Joseph. Joseph went through years of waiting and suffering before he saw God’s plan in it all. God used Joseph to save Egypt, the surrounding nations, and Joseph’s own family. God’s plans and purposes are so much bigger and greater than our own.
At the end of his story, Joseph says,
“You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day” Genesis 50:20 (NKJV)
That same truth is reconfirmed in the book of Romans in the New Testament.
“All things work together for good to those who love God” Romans 8:28 (NKJV).
God is indeed, the God of second chances.
Surrendering Our Questions of “Why?
“‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned,’ said Jesus, ‘but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.’” John 9:3 (NIV)
Have you ever found yourself asking God: Why would You allow this to happen?
I certainly have.
The last couple years of my life, I’ve had to face one hardship after another. At many points, I’ve wondered how I would make it through. It’s hard to feel confident in the goodness of God when circumstances don’t feel good at all.
We’re often left thinking that if we could just figure out the why, then life would make more sense. Especially in the face of pain or suffering.
This is where we find the disciples in the ninth chapter of the book of John — holding out the question of why. Jesus and His disciples had come across a man who’d been blind from birth. It was an encounter that left the disciples asking Jesus, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:2b, NIV).
The disciples were looking for someone to blame for this unfortunate situation. If they could only figure out the reason why, then this man’s hurt would be more tolerable, they reasoned.
Being blind in Jesus’ time was often seen as a statement about the sin in your life. So, you probably didn’t have a whole lot of help from people. In their eyes, you were not only blind — people assumed you were a sinner God was punishing. Jesus turned this thinking on its head when He declared the words of our key verse to His disciples: “‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned,’ said Jesus, ‘but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him’” (John 9:3).
The reason this man was blind was so others could see the amazing power of God. Healing his physical blindness would lead others to spiritual sight. It would shine a light on the One who declared He had come to be the Light of the world.
Sadly, not all who witnessed this man’s healing were open to Jesus’ Truth. In fact, it stirred up a whole mess with the Pharisees — a group of men whose lives prove we don’t have to be physically blind to only see darkness.
The Pharisees knew all about the prophesied Messiah. But when Jesus came on the scene, they couldn’t see He was the One. They knew all the right answers, but didn’t make the right choice.
Oh, how this makes my heart pause. What do I want most? What do I need most? Answers … or Jesus?
As much as I want answers for those things that break my heart, what I’m finding I want and need more is spiritual sight. I want to approach a situation that might look hopeless and see the spiritual potential. I want to read the Bible and see clearly what God wants to say. I want to know how to react to situations in a way that honors Christ. I’m guessing these are things you are wanting, too.
So how do we get this kind of spiritual sight? We ask God for it. Continually. And sometimes that means surrendering our whys and choosing instead to ask, “Will You help me see You, Lord? Even in this?” He is the One who can illuminate the dark places for us. His presence alone has the power to bring us peace in the midst of our unanswered questions.
Today, let’s be careful not to get stuck in our whys. Let’s not allow them to leave us blind to His presence, blind to His goodness, blind to His power, blind to the hope we have in Him. Let’s not be like the Pharisees — people who could physically see but were blind to the Savior standing right in front of them.
I know this isn’t easy. Trust me. I have situations where I’ve begged God to give me answers. But I’m realizing instead of answers, He’s given me Himself. A way to come straight to Him, the One who already has it all figured out. The One who reminds me I don’t have to have His answers to have His comfort.
“You number and record my wanderings; put my tears into Your bottle – are they not in Your book … This I know, for God is for me … In God have I put my trust and confident reliance; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? – Psalm 56:8-11 AMPC
The psalmist David admitted that there were times when he wandered. He also realized that God would “number and record [his] wanderings.” These were times when he failed God and strayed from the right path. He made mistakes and doubted God many times.
Perhaps David was disappointed that his efforts fell short of his expectations. He was disappointed when he sinned against God. Perhaps he did not receive the answers he expected or failed to experience God’s blessing.
In every situation, God knew his actions. He had numbered and recorded everything before he even did it. When the psalmist cried out because of his pain and failures, he knew that God was prepared to forgive and restore him. If he genuinely repented, God was ready to put his tears into a bottle (v. 8).
His experience reminds us that even our closest friends have limited understanding, and the smartest person only has limited wisdom. How much better it is for us to trust in God!
Right now, no matter what you face, remember that you can trust Him. Be honest with Him. Tell Him every need, worry, and fear. Admit your failings, wanderings, and sins. Accept His forgiveness and restoration. Let Him give you a fresh start.
Be so confident that you can say, “I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” Remember, God is for you in every situation!