Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Plan

I admit it.  I have always been one of those people that has wanted to know "The Plan".  Yeah, yeah. God's thoughts are bigger our thoughts and His ways are different than ours.  I know.  Sometimes I didn't figure I needed to know the whys so much, but I sure as heck did want to know the what.  At least give me a clue of where this is taking us!  (You like that past tense as if I never struggle with or question that anymore? Sometimes I like to pretend that I now have it all together, even though I think we all know better.)

But you know what I mean.  I'll tell God that I can accept being single or be happy to be married, but could He please get to letting me know what it's going to be so I can get busy accepting it?  I see couples struggling with subfertility and having to deal with the waiting, hoping and trying with no guarantees.  The yes or no would be easier.

But there's another part of the whole idea that I've tried to figure out about "God's plan" and I'm still not sure that I have a good grasp on it. When someone dies, like a child or a young mother or father of several children (or anyone else), or when someone is in dire suffering, when cancer strikes, when unknown medical diseases hit, when a natural disaster tears through and area and destroys homes and kills people, when any other such thing happens, how does that fit in with God's plan?

I think I've mentioned my dilemma before.  On the one hand, how can God cause such a thing to be?  On the other hand, if God is not the cause of it, and if it is not a part of His plan, then how in the heck do we get through it?

I don't have all the answers (and never will, because God's ways are WAY above my head), but these questions have been rolling around in my head with all of the tragedies that seem to be going around in the last few months.  In one case in particular, I cannot see how God could have caused such a thing, and yet I see His grace all through how it could have been worse, and how good is coming out of something unthinkably bad.  And these thoughts were rolling around in my head around Easter, and I think it started to make a little sense.  Like most things in life, if it doesn't make sense, go hang out at the foot of the cross for a while.  It may not all become clear, but at least it reminds us where God is in the midst of it all.

Okay, so here's my thought.  The crucifixion was awful.  And yet in some way it was the will of God.  After all, Christ prayed for it to pass Him by, but for God's will to be done.  And the crucifixion happened.  But it can't be entirely God's will, because there is no way that God would want or cause people to sin by killing anyone, and especially not His Son.  There is no way that it could have been God's will for Adam to sin and separate himself from God, and yet we refer to the "happy fault of Adam that gained us so great a Savior."  What I think is that it's not God's will or His plan for sin or the wages of sin (death, destruction, illness, pain, etc) to happen, but since they will happen regardless, it is His plan to be smack in the middle of all of it, redeeming it.

As I have said, I do not think that God takes loved ones from us, I believe that He receives them.  But I think He does so much more than that.  I believe that in receiving them, He also sends abundant graces to draw us closer to Him, to them, and to each other in the midst of our pain and our questions and the inevitable darkness that surrounds all of it. We did our worst when we killed God on the cross, but He not only forgives us, He uses that very moment to save us.  And while I do not think that God wills sin and tragedy in our lives, but when they inevitably come, I think He uses those moments above all others to save us and those around us.

I think my questions come because when I see horrible things, and when there is such a sense of God's presence even in the midst of those, I wonder why He caused them.  But I think I am getting confused. Sin and the wages of sin cause those things, but God's plan is the redemption and the grace in the midst of it all.  And as to the part where we have to suffer first, He is right there with us, suffering first, and suffering with us, and causing even that very suffering to eventually become one of our greatest joys.

"In this you rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Without having seen him, you love him; though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy. As the outcome of your faith you obtain the salvation of your souls." (1 Peter 1:6-9)


  1. The line "We did our worst when we killed God on the cross, but He not only forgives us, He uses that very moment to save us" oh that really got me. I will be mulling this over in my mind for days. I have asked God many times "you really want me to go through x, y, and z. Then you still want me to suffer after that!" The only answer I hear back from God is "I love you and want you to spend eternity with me" That's it no explanation or insight as to when it will end, just His love (which is HUGE obviously). I think it speaks volumes of who God is, He is Love and love is redemptive and sanctifying. I think you just gave me a focus for my prayer time tomorrow, thanks :)

  2. My spiritual director has been working on "God's perfect will" vs. "God's permissive will" with me. I think you described this very well and I think it is what you are getting at here.

    Also, the line "I don't believe God takes loved ones from us, I believe He receives them." Um, I love that, and it's beautiful and it puts words to a feeling I've had for a very long time.