God’s plans can unravel our careful planning in an instant. We’re surprised by job losses, job opportunities, political realities, family crises, people who need our help, unexpected deaths, unplanned pregnancies, new relationships, scientific discoveries, new ideas and fresh dreams. We think we need to hold on to relationships because we can envision a future in them; the future may unfold quite differently. (I’m really glad I didn’t end up married to any of the boys I thought were so perfect for me when I was a teenager.) When we were children, you and I thought we would someday be astronauts, firefighters, professional athletes, doctors, nurses and circus performers. Now we spend our lives doing all kinds of other things (and I’m glad that not everyone who thought they would be a doctor actually practices medicine today).
Life also has a way of popping the stitches on what we think we have sewn up. Several years ago, my husband and I bought a big house we thought we would grow into and finish raising our children in. It seemed to make sense at the time, but less than two years later, we moved one thousand miles away right before the housing bubble burst in the United States. As the Great Recession developed and wore on, we were saddled with that house, which drained us financially and emotionally. After five and a half years, we spent our entire savings to make it attractive to buyers. We finally sold it for a price that allowed us to walk away without spending any more money on it–but didn’t allow us to regain a single dollar of the tens of thousands we had poured into it over nearly eight years. We were broke.
While financial analysts could have predicted what happened in our economy and how it affected people like us (and we later found out some had), we could not have known what was coming. But God certainly knew. And rather than somehow prevent us from purchasing the house or moving to a new state and new jobs, he used these circumstances to teach us some powerful lessons about faith, trust, wisdom and the fleeting value of material possessions.
God’s concerns are more important than ours. God’s priorities and ours don’t always coincide. In fact, they usually don’t. We have a very small perspective, rooted mostly in our own personal stories. God is writing a much greater and grander story, which started before the dawn of human history and which features him as the main character. It’s ridiculous for us to insist on our way, to expect that life should unfold as we think it should. It’s also pointless.
God is good. Do you really believe this? Do you understand that the presence of unspeakable evil in this world does not mean God is not good? Look around you and see all the goodness he sustains. In his mercy and his unfathomable love, he has not destroyed us despite our corruption (and for all our potential and our good intentions, human corruption is hard to deny). He is executing a brilliantly good plan to rescue us from ourselves and restore the world as it should be. He is good, and we can trust that his plans are always good, even if they don’t match what we want.
We often think like young children, who equate goodness with pleasure, sweetness and comfort. From this point of view, parents might seem evil for depriving their kids of pleasure, sweetness and comfort by limiting sugar intake, making them go to school, and requiring them to go to bed at night and get up in the morning. But good parents have another definition of goodness, and our plans for our children are good, even if they don’t understand and don’t always get to live the kind of life they want to. This is even more true for us in relationship to God: not getting what we want is not a legitimate reason to question whether God is good. Neither is reaping the consequences of our own choices. This is true even when what we want is simply a life free of serious pain and suffering. We long for a world without excruciating suffering–and this longing is good; we were made for a better world and someday will live in one. But the presence of suffering in this world is caused by sin, not by God. And believing God should regularly rescue and shield us from the consequences of sin in this world means that in looking for relief, we have misunderstood the destructive power of our own condition and lost sight of God’s glorious and permanent rescue plan and redemptive power.
Taken from Anxious by Amy Simpson. Copyright(c) 2014 by Amy Simpson. Used by permission from InterVarsity Press, PO Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60515. www.ivpress.com.
© 2015 Amy Simpson.