Is it part of His plan when tornadoes tear apart towns and families?
Is it His plan for earthquakes and tsunamis to kill thousands?
Is it His plan for some nations to die of starvation, while others die of obesity?
What part of His plan calls for some couples to struggle with infertility and pregnancy loss, while other women, despite drug use and all around poor choices, seem to have no problem getting pregnant?
Why does His plan allow some people to have absolutely no one to go see on the holidays?
I know all the pat answers. I know "He'll bring good out of suffering." I know "He doesn't make bad things happen, He allows them to happen." I know those. I've used those. They just seem so inadequate. It doesn't make sense to me to have God plan suffering in order to redeem suffering. (And whether He makes it happen or just allows it to happen, if it's part of His plan, then it still doesn't make sense.)
Maybe I have too strict a view of God's plan? Maybe He doesn't really plan all these things, maybe His plan is more of a general overview kind of thing. The plan is to get us to heaven, but maybe He didn't plan every little moment along the way.
Only, do you know what is far more scary than the idea of God planning everything (even suffering)? Look into the eyes of a mother who has lost a child, and tell her that there's no plan after all. That her pain was not part of a plan that will work out for good in the end. That even though God is around and He cares and He'll get you to heaven, He's standing on the sidelines as this happens. That's not what I want either. I want Him to be in control of this, even when it makes me angry at Him for not doing a better job.
Do you see why I question? How does it make sense for an all powerful, loving God to plan suffering, and also how does it make sense that He wouldn't have a plan?
As with so many things, the problem really lies in my thinking. It is not a problem of how God is handling things. It is a problem of how I am understanding them. A few years ago, I blithely assumed that everything was a part of God's plan. All of the timing about how everything worked out, all of it. The problem with taking such a thought too far is that then I was treating God as a sort of divine puppet master. Not that I ever thought of it like that, of course, but if He is in control of every little detail, then that's what He would be. If suffering happened, it would be the puppet master making it/allowing to happen.
However, another mother, who lost an 8 month old, put things more into perspective. She wrote that she had to decide whether God had taken her child, or whether He had received her child. Such a difference. Those two words suddenly made me see that in my "puppet master" view, it would mean that God had taken the child; a real problem.
What if, instead, I take a step WAAYYY back. All the way back to Genesis, in fact. What if I take a look at sin and death and problems entering the world. And what if God, who is NOT a puppet master, but a loving Father, who knew that we needed free will in order to be truly free to love, gave us free will, even knowing what pain and suffering we would bring down on ourselves. After all, the goal here on earth is not whether or not we suffer. It's whether or not we love.
So if sin, death, and everything else is because of the problems of an imperfect world, then it's not because of God that it happens. Nonetheless, God has a plan. Just as He started to reveal His plan of salvation the moment that Adam fell, He has a plan for each of the things that happens to us in life.
He did not make miscarriage happen. But He does have a plan for it; a plan to receive that child into His waiting arms, and a plan for healing for the parents of that child. He has a plan that will redeem that suffering and give it a meaning and a purpose. That may be down the road, and even though He knows the beauty of the ultimate plan, He is still weeping with those who weep.
He is not a puppet master. Perhaps it is more like a dance. He is leading us each step of the way, guiding our steps, but not forcing us. In dance, there is a call and response between partners and so in life.
Maybe God's plan is much messier than I gave it credit for. Not because He is messy, but because we are messy and life is messy and rather than pulling every string, He makes us a partner in the dance. He could bring salvation without suffering, but because there is suffering, He brings it out of that (and out of the good things as well).
Okay, that's a really long post, and I can only hope it makes sense. Kudos* if you made it all the way through! The thing about subjects like this is that there will never be complete answers this side of heaven. I know that there are a lot of things that I am missing or places where I may be a little off, so please add any insights you may have!
*I know what the expression means, but what, exactly, are "kudos"?