Does the day’s news ever make you question, even if just for a moment, God’s authority in the world? I’m guilty of at least asking the question now and then, and I doubt I’m the only one. To some extent, I think it’s only natural given the increasingly unstable nature of the world today.
President Trump, commander in chief of the world’s second largest nuclear arsenal, warned that further threats from North Korea “will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.” North Korea responded by threatening to attack the American base in Guam. In France, six soldiers were injured in a possible terrorist attack after a dark BMW crashed into their patrol. And the impending release of a new report on climate change already has proponents from both sides on the defensive as they prepare for another round of the same old fight.
Amidst all the uncertainty and strife we face each day, believing that God remains in control and still has plans for this world and all those in it has seldom been more important or more difficult.
Jeremiah 29:11 is one of the most commonly cited verses when people are going through times such as these, and for good reason. God’s promise that he has a plan for you and that those plans are to “prosper you and not to harm you . . . to give you a hope and a future” can provide just the kind of reassurance and encouragement needed when life seems bleak. Unfortunately, that verse is also one of the most commonly misunderstood passages in Scripture.
You see, when God says that he has plans for you, those plans are for your life rather than this moment. Because we live in a world where people misuse their freedom and all of creation fell alongside humanity, often the greatest good can only be found at the end of some very difficult stretches of road. But just because the path is tough does not make God’s plans to redeem the struggles we go through any less good.
For example, when I had cancer, the doctors’ plan for my ultimate good was to get rid of the disease. However, I can assure you that their strategy seemed anything but good as I was undergoing the treatments.
When the surgery they performed to remove the tumor left me scarred and sore, there were times that I doubted the goodness of their plan. When the six weeks of radiation that followed left me so burned that it was all but impossible to sleep most nights without medication and made it extremely painful to swallow, I doubted the goodness of their plan.
And when I sat in those waiting rooms watching other people go through far worse as part of their doctors’ strategy to heal them, there were times I doubted the goodness of those plans as well. Yet, going on more than five years being cancer-free with two kids I might never have known otherwise, I don’t have those doubts anymore.
You see, if the doctors had been concerned with my immediate good rather than with the big picture, I would either be dead or still suffering from a disease that was continually spreading to bring me to that end. Praise the Lord that their plan was bigger than that.
God’s strategy for our lives often works in a similar way. His end game is to prosper us and not to harm us, to give us a hope and a future, but that will likely mean experiencing stretches of time where his plans seem quite different from that. When those moments come, it will be only natural to doubt the goodness of God’s will. However, if we can maintain the necessary faith to walk with him in obedience, even when that obedience is painful, it will be worth it in the end.
So, the next time you begin to doubt the goodness of God’s plan for your life or for the world around you, ask him to help you view your circumstances through his eyes and to give you the faith to trust that he sees what you cannot.
There’s power and peace in trusting God’s perspective. Will they be yours today?
Janet and I are on vacation, so I’ve asked our oldest son Ryan to write the Daily Article in my absence. Ryan has been writing for our website for several years. He has earned BA and Master of Divinity degrees and is completing a PhD in church history. I believe you will profit from his insights as he engages cultural issues with biblical truth.