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Question 33

Q: Several years ago I left a very successful job to open my own business. Unfortunately, due to 9/11 and other reasons, my business failed after five years.

I lost our family savings and returned to the corporate workplace.

My wife has never forgiven me for being so irresponsible. I have lived with this guilt and shame for years. I’m depressed everyday because of it.

My question is, if we make a decision based on what we feel is God’s will but it brings negative consequences, does that mean the decision was out of God’s will?

Asked by: Glen, Illinois


A: I’m so thankful for your question, Glen, but I need to confess that it’s not an easy one to answer.

All of us have made decisions that we thought were God’s will, and yet they turned out very negative.

Just having read your question, I need to say that I’m not so sure that you were “out of God’s will” when you started your own business. Maybe God wanted to teach you some lessons as a result of its failure—lessons that you couldn’t have learned if you’d been a complete success. I always say that failure is a much better teacher than success. Was Moses out of God’s will in the desert for 40 years? After all, he was there for the sin of manslaughter. But in the desert, God honed him and shaped him in the man he became. And God wants to do the same thing with you.

Pray that your wife will lay down her bitterness. I pity you if she continually reminds you of the mistake that you made. Once it’s dealt with between the two of you, since the confession has been made, she needs to put all of that behind her. At this point it does not appear as if she is learning the lessons she should be learning while she treks with you through the wilderness.

If she doesn’t forgive you, she needs to be reminded of how graciously God forgives us. Does He constantly remind us by saying, “Well you know that was sure a silly decision. I forgive you, but I’m going to continue to throw it in your face?” No. God doesn’t do that. And we shouldn’t either. The Bible says that we should forgive, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven us.

Your wife needs to pray and receive God’s forgiveness for her attitude. Then she needs to come to you and get your forgiveness too. Because both of you are believers, both of you can move on from here without letting the past destroy your future. We can debate whether you were in God’s will in the past, but we know God’s will for your future: both of you should glorify God despite what has happened, and embrace grace and move forward.

A final word: A very close friend of mine lost $800,000 as a result of a company making unwise decisions. I met with him recently. His life is full of joy, and he says that he learned things as a result of this experience that he couldn’t have learned in any other way. He isn’t angry at those who made bad decisions. He sees it all as part of God’s plan, and he’s decided to move on.

You and your wife need to do the same.

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