God doesn’t author “second bests”

I need to confess some wrong thinking I’ve recently uncovered in my mind. I’ve had this paradigm-shifting moment in my life this month that I think a lot of us need to hear, because I think a lot of us have good intentions but are totally operating in this slightly off-center theology.

Or, you know, maybe it’s just me. In which case enjoy this next 700 words or so of me making you feel better about yourself. 

If you’ve visited my little corner of the internet much in the last year or so, you know that we fought a pretty brutal losing fight last year. We lost our baby boy in May, and then, like you do, moved across America to plant a church. To say that it’s been a whirlwind would be an enormous understatement.

I can honestly say, for the first time in almost a year, I feel genuinely good. Like, if I ran into an acquaintance at the grocery store and they asked me how I was, I could say “I’m good!” without it being that southern hospitable thing that everyone just says no matter what, when actually your whole life is up in flames. Rest assured, dear friends, that this has been a long time coming.

I have wrestled with God this year more than the previous 26 years of my life combined. I’ve brought some hard questions to Him and searched His word through some pretty dark nights in my soul until I could reconcile some really deep stuff — at the end of the day really just wanting to know the answer to two questions: “Are you still good?” and  “Am I OK?”

By the end of the year I really believe I had gone to the deepest depths with God to reconcile that the answer to both of those questions is a resounding “YES.” But more than that, I had this moment of realizing that, sure, I believed God was good. But I hadn’t necessarily believed He was the most good. That He was best and He had my best in mind all the time.

I was looking at Him through the lens of my hard year instead of the lens of eternity, and at the end of the day what was really in my heart was that He was “good enough.” Here’s what I mean:

I realized I was looking at my season as a consolation prize. I’d had good intentions when I said things like, “Although I experienced great loss this year, I’m grateful that I’ve been able to pick up ministry opportunities that I wouldn’t have if I had a family.” The problem was that the posture of my heart underneath those statements was, “This is my consolation prize” instead of “This is God’s best.”

I had to take myself back to a place of stripped down simplicity and ask, “OK, what is the character of God?”

He’s good (John 10:14). He’s loving (Psalm 145:8). He is perfect in all of His ways (Psalm 18:30) — which, by the way, means He literally can’t author second bests. He only does best. He is a good dad who gives good gifts (Luke 11:9-13). It’s His pleasure to give me the kingdom (Luke 12:32).

He does not willingly grieve or afflict His children (Lamentations 3:33). Goodness, I need that written on every wall of my house.

He does not give consolation prizes. Nor does he hand us “second best” because “He simply couldn’t salvage what sin broke before.” (Hello, He already did that. On the cross.)

Of course He didn’t choose for us to lose a baby last year. But He wasn’t surprised by it and Heaven’s purpose for our family did not get derailed by it. He still intends to fulfill every. single. promise. It just won’t look like I had hoped or thought it would. And somehow in my small, limited human mind, I had amounted something looking different to something looking less than.

Meanwhile, He’s weaving things together and handing me all sorts of open doors for opportunities to see dreams realized and promises fulfilled in ministry. He’s entrusted me with His Bride.

Here I am down and out about my own lack of children and He wants me to mother His. Mercy, Lord. Forgive me for not seeing that as the most treasured thing you have ever given me.

He’s assigned me to a race that He made me to be the gold medal carrier of, and I’ve been treating it like a participation ribbon.

“Oh, well at least I can do this ministry thing in the meantime.”

You know, like live inside of one of the most significant moves of God our city has ever seen, witness people giving their lives to Jesus & see a city and state that’s been in bondage since its very conception delivered and set free. But this has to be God’s second best.

OK, does this not sound absurd!? Ugh. Friends. We are so blinded by our circumstances sometimes. PLEASE, learn from my few laps around the track with this wrong thinking, and —


No one else can. Just like you can’t run anyone else’s.

Run hard and fast. Trip over a hurdle once in a while and then watch what happens when you’re still able to get up and keep running.

Heaven’s purpose for your life has not been derailed by your failures, your losses or your insecurities. Pick up your baton and RUN. This is your leg of the race to run. No one else will.

I believe in you.


Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)

8 thoughts on “God doesn’t author “second bests”

  1. Thanks, Sara, for sharing this! I, too, have thought that some of what I’ve been dealt in life has been a consolation prize. It’s good to be reminded that it’s all God’s best.

  2. Sara,
    I’ve been following your blog for over 2 years now and have always been amazed at the way in which God uses you, a sister in Christ, but complete stranger, to speak volumes of truth into my life. We always seem to be learning the same lesson, but in different ways-that is the beauty of the gospel, that a complete stranger could feel like a friend. You are awesome!

  3. Hi Sarah!

    I am so thankful that this post landed in my email somehow!! To be really honest- I’m sitting on my couch, in my tiny apartment terribly anxious. I’m working my second night shift as a new nurse in the emergency department tonight.

    Your thoughtful words matter to people, and right now, they reminded me that I am not walking alone. Thank you.

    Much love-



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