Recently, one of my beloved church members stopped by my office and was telling me the latest installment of what was happening in her grandson’s life. This young man was always dealing with one crisis or another, often due to his own choices. After recounting the most recent happenings, this sweet grandmother looked and me and said, “You know, God can’t fix stupid!” I nearly fell over laughing.
Her comment was not a swipe at her grandson’s mental capacity nor at God’s omnipotence. Her point was simple: Why get upset at God about the trials you are facing when you refuse to be a part of the solution? In this particular case, the young man was dealing with a health issue, but he had avoided seeing a doctor leading up to this crisis and wasn’t planning to work with one now that it had come.
Before you fuss and say that I’m preaching “God helps those who help themselves,” let me clearly state that I’m not espousing that flawed theology. God’s grace and provisions can often best be seen in the lives of the broken and hurting – those individuals who can’t help themselves. However, what I am affirming is that when we know of a necessary action we must take but refuse to move, then we should neither be surprised nor whine to God when we deal with the consequences.
To help illustrate my point, let’s take a look at Scripture. In 2 Kings 5:1-14 we read the story of Naaman, a man who desperately needed God’s help. If you’re not familiar with the passage, it’s worth the time to go read it in its entirety, but for the sake of trying to be brief allow me to summarize. Naaman was a high-ranking military commander for one of Israel’s neighboring countries but he also suffered from the terrible disease of leprosy. Through a servant, Naaman heard of a prophet of God who might cure him so he received permission to travel, prepared a large and expensive gift, and set off to seek out Elisha.
Let’s let God’s Word take it from here:
So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stood at the door of Elisha’s house. And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean.” But Naaman was angry and went away, saying, “Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. (2 Kings 5:9–12, ESV)
I always laugh when I read those verses. Here’s this big shot general who thinks he can buy his healing and instead of some grand reception, Elisha’s messenger sticks his head out of the door to say, “Go take seven baths in that dirty water over there,” and then shuts the door leaving Naaman standing there looking the fool. Naaman’s pride kept him from seeing what a simple thing he was being told to do, so he turned around and stormed off.
While the story doesn’t end there, this is a good place to stop and ask a couple of questions. Would God have been justified in allowing Naaman to return home, unhealed, to eventually die from this disease? Absolutely. Would Naaman have had any right to complain about his trial or curse God if he had refused to do such a simple thing? Of course not. In this situation, God was ready to provide a healing, but He was not going to force Naaman to comply with His prescribed treatment.
Now to the good news. While I do say, “God can’t fix stupid,” meaning that He won’t force you to pay attention to the important decisions or commit to the right actions, His grace will meet you when stupid has had its effect. For Naaman, God had placed some wise men around him who intervened before it was too late. They stopped Naaman and said, “Hey dummy,” (I’m paraphrasing slightly) “you were willing to do any huge thing asked of you to be healed, why won’t you do this simple thing!” Naaman came to his senses, washed in the Jordan seven times, and came out completely cleansed.
If I’m being honest, most of the trials I’ve ever faced have been self-inflicted or at least self-prolonged. Even in times of facing a difficult situation that came not because of anything I had done, I have often refused to do what God has required of me that would have made the pain go away. There have been times in my life that I have sought God’s guidance and help, had Him reveal the steps I need to take, only to say to Him, “But I don’t want to do that! Can’t you just fix it?” Let’s all say it together now – “God can’t fix stupid!”
Even though we don’t deserve it, God can and often does provide a merciful solution or provision to meet us in our time of need. God’s love is so strong that despite our stubbornness, defiance, and rebellion He still desires to lift us out of the pits we’ve dug ourselves into. So maybe I can put it this way: “God can’t fix stupid, but I’m so thankful He still loves one as stupid as me!”