We were sitting through another doctors appointment, waiting for another test, another answer and yet we were still in the same place – well meaning she said
“God has a plan for your life”
I smiled…and cringed a little too.
Have you heard that phrase a million times before?
Have you heard it when you are in the middle of a battle that seems endless and you feel like saying
“God has a plan for your life” is well in meaning but often in my own case falls a bit flat when I’m faced with the reality that it doesn’t change what I am still in the middle of and to be honest – we know God has plans – He created the universe, certainly He is mindful of our lives.
But to be honest, hearing “God has a plan for your life” can feel like a distant future thing that will one day, someday or never day come when your eyes are swollen, tired and puffy with tears.
I remember going through infertility and being so distraught with the constancy of bills piling up on our credit cards from test after test, procedure after procedure all to end with – still no baby. I remember feeling like somehow God was punishing me. People would lovingly smile and say “God has a plan”. And I would think “Ummmm I’m sure He does, He is God, He better have a plan!” But it didn’t always give me comfort..and after stumbling across some verses today in Romans I think maybe we need to see the word plan through a different lens –
The phrase is not incorrect – it’s not that its a bad thing that we want to feel like there is solace or comfort somewhere down the road nor is it incorrect to say that God has a plan. However sometimes it is said in a way that kind of eludes to the idea that somehow it will all make sense (but sometimes it doesn’t) or it will all be better, that our lives will some day be perfect, or all that we dreamt it would be, will in fact be. Let me say that again with some italics –
“that somehow our lives will someday be perfect or all that WE dreamt it would be”
We want perfect health
We want perfect relationships
We want suffering to go away
We want control
We want pain to stop
We want all of our hopes to be realized
We want…a perfect world….but it’s not…
We live in a very broken world. We live in a world of toil and suffering and affliction. We live in a world that is less than perfect and more wrought with ails than beauty in some ways.
We have only seen a glimpse of the beauty that awaits us.
I remember in one of my Biblical leadership classes hearing one of our teachers say
“Because of the fall we live in a depraved world. We have only seen a glimpse. Even the most beautiful tree is marked by the fall and is not yet in it’s full state of beauty”
Marked by the fall and not yet in it’s full state of beauty
Hmmmm kind of sounds like us…we are marked by the fall…awaiting beauty…
So…if we want to talk about God’s plan in relation to our suffering, our frustrations, our burdens, our trials, our questions we can go here where I stumbled this morning –
“God planned for them to be like His Son: and those he planned to be like his Son, he also called, and those he called, he also made right with him and those he made right he also glorified.” Romans 8:30
So with good intentions we say God has a plan for YOUR life…well kind of …but not really – God PLANNED for us to be like His son. Stop there.
His plan is for us to be like Jesus.
The Man of sorrows.
The one who walked with sinners.
The one who experienced the greatest affliction to take away ours.
The one who lost friends.
The one who writhed in pain.
The one… in whom our glory is found.
His plan is for us to be like Jesus
The one who is long-suffering
The one who is grace
The one who is mercy
The one who is compassion
The one who is self control
The one…who is our hope…Hope against all hope…
He’s the plan.
He is the place where the plan of God meets and intersects with our life – not the other way around.
And don’t get me wrong, I know many will quote Jeremiah 29:11..yes, yes, “God has plans not to harm you but to give you a hope and a future”
I get that. Yes, God has plans not to harm His children. I do believe that God delights in the joy of His children. I do believe that God rejoices when we rejoice…but I also believe that He rejoices when His children rejoice in the joy that is found in Him…and Him alone – even apart from our idea of a ‘fulfilled plan’. In my own life I believe that God wanted me to find peace and hope in Him alone whether or not I had children, whether or not my health restores back to normalcy, whether or not the parts of me that are still broken fall back in place.
I do believe that His plans not to harm us include us coming back to the garden to walk with Him. The hope and future He is speaking of is one that calls us back to Him fully…completely…undivided in spite of our suffering because we are being made more like Him.
So we go back to Jeremiah 29:11 for a second – if His plan is for us to be like Jesus (which it is) than He is our future and He is our hope even in tribulation – because it is there that we are being made more like Him and in that we are fulfilling His plan.
In the middle of our long-suffering – we become more like Him.
In the middle of our waiting – we become more like Him.
In the middle of our gasps of urgency for heaven to break open – we become more like Him.
More like Him.
That is the plan.
And yes, prayers are answered, and yes hopes become realized but all in alignment with His plan for us to become more like Jesus.
God planned for us to be like His Son.
Through our suffering, through our waiting, through our trial, through tears, through it all.
I am reminded of a new worship song that I heard recently by Bethel live which says
“Through it all, through it all, my eyes are on you. Through it all, through it all it is well” – Bethel Live.
So I resolve that, it is well when I don’t understand.
It is well when I am tired.
It is well when I am wrung out.
It is well when I can’t see.
It is well because you are with me.
It is well because my eyes are on you God.
Your plan is good because YOU are the plan. It is well with me.
I think that encapsulates the very essence of His plan. Our eyes are on Him and Him alone through it all…for in Him – it is well.
Keep your eyes on Him.
“We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love him, they are the people he called, because that was His plan.” Romans 8:28