You’ve heard about it. You’ve watched other people do it. You may have even experienced it yourself. You know what I’m talking about. It’s that moment when you stop to take inventory of where you are in life and how you got there. They say hindsight is 20/20 but I’m not so sure. I wonder if we are as self deceiving looking back over the defining moments of our lives as we are looking ahead at the choices we have yet to make. There’s a good way to know. It’s a cliche’ we use, “It all worked out for the best.”
“I’m glad I left that job. It all worked out for the best.”
“Looking back on it, my divorce was really a good thing. It all worked out for the best.”
“This house is a money pit. I’m deeper in debt than I’ve ever been, but it will all work out for the best.”
With dismissive nonchalance we reduce the defining moments of our lives to a few short sentences and declare them ‘the best’. There’s a difference between making the best out of bad situation and choosing that which is genuinely best in the first place. It’s important that we recognize the difference.
There’s an inherent contradiction in the idea that we would ‘make the best’ out of a situation. On one hand it’s admirable. Someone faces a series of unfortunate events, they make the best out of it. Now they’re on top of the world. In the Old Testament Joseph provides a great example. He’s hated by his brothers and sold into slavery. He makes the best out of it and becomes a ruler in his master’s home. He’s falsely accused of rape and sent to prison. He makes the best of it and becomes a leader within the prison. He’s called before Pharaoh, answers a few questions wisely and becomes the Prime Minister of Egypt. Joseph definitely made the best of it.
Being able to make the best out of an unexpected or uncontrollable situation is a quality of character worth learning. But that’s not always how this phrase is used. Too often we use that phrase as an excuse for our bad choices. Divorce and debt are easy targets to illustrate what I mean.
Someone cheats on their spouse. Gets caught. Gets divorced. Years later when they tell their story you hear them say, “It all worked out for the best.”
Someone chooses to purchase something they don’t really need with money they don’t really have. Now they face bankruptcy or are forced to work long, life-killing hours. “It’s tough. We’re in a rough economy,” they say. “I’ll just have to make the best of it.”
That’s not the same kind of ‘best’ as Joseph’s example. The difference is in the choosing.
It’s clear there are different kinds of best. There’s Olympic best and Para-Olympic best. There’s professional best and amateur best. There’s the best that comes from making right choices and the ‘best’ we settle for when things don’t go as planned.
Will your life be the best or will you have to make the best out of something that’s already broken? The choice is yours. Choose wisely and make the best out of today.
“Therefore, to him who knows to do good, but does not do it, to him it is sin.” James 4:17