Unintended Consequences

April 15th, 1912 was not tax day.  Oddly, it is a day where a significant event in history occurred that still has not faded from memory.  I say oddly because it really was no big deal in the scheme of things.  A boat sunk.  Happens all the time.  Do you remember the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald?  Only if you know the Gordon Lightfoot song, else it would be long forgotten.  We remember the ship of April 15th, 1912 though.  It was named the Titanic.  It was the largest moving object in the world at the time.  Loaded with “A” list passengers including John Jacob Astor IV who was worth about $2 billion in today’s money, the majority of the survivors were the women and children of the wealthy, a fact which created it’s own scandal. Astor himself drowned.

It is true that the word “unsinkable” was not used to promote the ship by the owners (they merely said “practically unsinkable” which is a phrase similar to “practically pregnant.”)  Also modern ship building was so advanced, it was said, that the sinking of a ship was beyond comprehension.  Since Titanic sunk on it’s maiden voyage, the arrogance of man on display is one reason we remember this story.  It was the irony you see.  “Unsinkable ship sinks on it’s first voyage!  Lots of mostly poor people dead!  Well except for rich men!  They died too!”  No one seems to remember or can verify that anyone said, “God can’t sink this ship!”  Except for that crewman in the movie.  That movie wasn’t even about the sinking of the ship (which was the best part) but about Leonardo and some girl and Celine Dion.

There were not enough lifeboats.  That became apparent.  Yet the owners put more on board than was legally required and would have placed even more but they wanted to leave deck space for romantic dances under the moonlight.  Regulations have since required there be enough lifeboats to hold every passenger on board.  Unfortunately, the extra weight of the additional lifeboats caused the already unstable The Eastland to capsize while moored on the Chicago river, killing 844.

That is the law of Unintended Consequences.  It’s a great idea to require the lifeboats.  It is a better idea to engineer the ships to carry them safely.  Life is full of unintended consequences.

I see that all the time.  “How did I get in this mess?”  The simple answer is that you made a decision, however small, that led to this very moment.  “I did not intend for this to happen.”  I imagine not but here it is.  This thinking leads inevitably to this question which I have heard at least twice in the last month.  “Why is God putting me through this?”

The short answer is that He is not.  It is the consequence of a decision which we have made, sometimes years ago.  An unintended consequence.

We decide to move, to marry, to go to school, to make a friend, to take a puff, to tell a lie and all will start the bus which will drop us at our destination.  “This is not my stop!  You let me off at the wrong stop!”  Sorry, but this is the destination you selected when you made the decision.  “I made a mistake then.”  Yes, now what?

There appears to be an idea that God will overhaul our decisions and make the results better than we intended and thus He is to blame when our decisions turn out much worse than expected.  Rather we should rejoice when things turn out well and give Him the credit and accept the bad results as to be expected.  Except…

God will indeed remodel our bad decisions.  It is the direct promise of Romans 8:28.  I notice that He does allow us to experience a good portion of the bad results first, which I think is designed to teach us to make better decisions and to consider all possible consequences before making them.  Ultimately, all things will work out. Rarely, do we have to wait until heaven for some evil things to be resolved.  Think about it! It IS rare which is a testament to the goodness of God.  Usually God produces good out of evil right here on earth.

I think He deserves more credit and more praise and less complaining…

Romans 828 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?

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