EDITOR’S NOTE: While regular Millennial Monday blogger Emily Howsden is away on maternity leave, Millennial Monday will continue as guest bloggers fill in over the next couple of months.
Happy Monday! My name is Braden, and I’m filling in for my friend Emily this week as she cares for her little one. I’m glad you’re here.
This week, I could not help but ponder the places God will take me later in life. Who will He use in my life, and how? I wondered if my plans are even close to His.
My wife and I don’t watch much TV, but there are a few shows we enjoy regularly. During the summer, our show is Big Brother on CBS, a competition in which 16 “HouseGuests” are sealed in a house with each other and filmed. At the end of each week, one HouseGuest is voted out by the others.
As we were watching a recent episode, one of the HouseGuests decided to take a long-term, mystery handicap for an immediate advantage in a competition. Later, after a week with the handicap, she had a total emotional breakdown. She was miserable, and the handicap seemed specifically tailored to her. My wife and I discussed whether or not it was a coincidence. Then, the same thing happened to another HouseGuest.
After watching Big Brother for enough seasons, I realized the game is less like Monopoly and more like the Hunger Games. The HouseGuests may manipulate or collaborate with each other, but ultimately, outcomes are subject to the show’s producers.
In this sense, Big Brother is rigged like the Hunger Games. CBS is constantly polling viewers to collect data on the popularity and entertainment value of each HouseGuest. Those with the most personality and drama always remain disproportionately longer than others.
Surprise “twists” (pocket aces for producers) are introduced, causing the HouseGuests to interact with more friction. These twists always seem coincidentally aimed at someone specific, or tailored to get a particularly entertaining result.
Yet, the show continues to present itself as a game dependent upon the HouseGuests’ decisions and random chance. It makes good TV of course, but it hides the ease with which producers step into the game-maker role, ready to manipulate contestants for entertainment value and advertising dollars.
I don’t recommend looking for theological truths in TV shows, but I think you and I often feel like Big Brother HouseGuests.
God sometimes introduces “twists” into our lives. Many times, we don’t see them coming, and they feel like handicaps rather than advantages. We can try to plan for the future, but we run headlong into unexpected, unmerited setbacks.
Through Isaiah, God told the tribe of Judah, “my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways” (Isaiah 55:8, CSB). Just two chapters before, God revealed how He planned to bring the rebellious Israelites back to Himself: Jesus would be a “guilt offering” and “by his hand, the Lord’s pleasure will be accomplished” (Isaiah 53:10, CSB).
I doubt the tribe of Judah understood what God told them, or why He allowed them to be conquered and captured by Babylon, soon after. However, God’s plan was to eventually redeem His people through Jesus.
In Jeremiah 29, God promises the tribe of Judah He has great things in store for them.
The beauty of God’s transcendent plan is this: His goal is not entertainment value! Unlike TV producers, God’s plan is always for our good, to save us from the punishment we deserve. Instead of competing against His will, we can remember that He is on our side. Instead of plotting to elude His plans, we can rest in knowing that He is powerful enough to do exactly what is best, even if we can’t see it.
When God hits us hard with “twists,” we can be thankful, remembering that His plans are always for our good and for His glory.