I was speaking to a much older family friend some time ago. A few years ago, they sent their two oldest kids off to boarding school. It was really odd because just in their neighbourhood was a really good school and the kids already attended the school. But also because it was so abrupt, after the first year, they pulled them out and shipped them off to boarding school. It did not make sense at the time and in fact I doubt that the kids who were our friends understood very much what the reasons were. The parents offered not much by way of explanation anyway.
The school was so far away, talking like 4 hours driving to drop them off and visit. So it was clearly not an easy decision even for the parents. At the time, it didn’t even feel good to our friends. The bullying was intense and the seniors were out rightly mean so they came home the first few terms looking really malnourished and significantly thinner. LOL.
Then it became a little difficult to stay in touch with all their friends and interests started to vary. They became seniors and acclimatized and made new friends. Eventually we became the jealous ones because they then had amazing friends from all over the country compared to those who attended day school near home. Their exposure was a lot broader at the time as well and it ended up being a worthwhile adventure.
You know what? Only a few years ago did I realise why their parents made that move. In a conversation, I heard them saying that they noticed their son was picking a few unsavoury habits from his secondary school friends. It was just JS1 but the pressure was getting quite intense and they tried to fix it by nipping it in the bud. They were uncomfortable but it was hardly a situation they could control given that it was a close community and everyone knew everyone and everyone’s parents. What do you tell an eleven year old about a friend who is his neighbour and with whom he makes the trip to and from school everyday that will be well managed and not cause a family scandal?
So the parents decided to send him away and try to break the friendships subtly. By the time he came home on holiday, just 3 weeks for the first term, 4 weeks for the second, and then the long summer break, the friendships were getting weaker. By the next school year, the friendships had dissolved. They had gradually grown apart and built different values. It appeared not good to the kids at the time but in their parents’ hearts, it was good for them. It was ultimately good.
This story was a very present reminder that very often along our journey, as a father, God has a different perspective than we do and He allows things that are ultimately for our good. We just may not be privy to the why and how but we must grow into the realisation that He is a ‘good good’ father and that whatever He permits is ultimately for our good.
This is when Romans 8:28 takes on a new meaning.
“ And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”
This is where we settle it, we know our father by character and we know that what He permits for us is for our good. It may not be good to us in the present like changing schools and all was not for my friends but the parents had a plan. When we have God for a father, we believe Him, but beyond that, we trust Him. Whatever He permits is for our good.
I know it is a tough pill to swallow, truly very tough to accept that Jesus did not die just to make us happy. He is interested in building our character and making us like Him. So on this journey, He sometimes permits things to happen for the ultimate shaping of our faith. We may not understand but we know He’s working all things together for our good.
Image Courtesy: Lola