Saturday, November 7, 2015

God's Plan

I've written things about God's plan before. I'm not going to link those posts here (because I don't remember exactly when I wrote them, and I'm too lazy to go look). Anyway, the gist of it all is that I think that sometimes we take the idea of God's plan too far, as in, we start to see everything as an act of God; thus reducing God to some divine puppet master and as puppets, it reduces our free will as well. I stand by that, because I can't see God causing someone to choose drunk driving, leading to someone else's death. I can't accept that God sends a tornado through a town and kills people with it. And so forth. It's not exactly what people mean when they chirp, "It's all a part of God's plan", but sometimes I think the meaning can devolve to that on some level.

However, I am feeling led to rest in the tension of the "both...and" right now. People of God are often called to become comfortable in the tension of paradox. On the one hand, God is not a puppet master pulling the strings. He is not directing natural disasters, nor causing sins and mistakes that cause pain and suffering. On the other hand, He does have a plan, in and through all of it. It is all a part of His will. Even if we make a distinction between what He actively plans for our lives and what He allows to happen in a fallen world that can lead us forward, it is all His will.

I am thinking of a friend of mine who lost her 2 month old a year ago. I cannot possibly think that God would actively cause a baby to die like that. However, if my friend's suffering is not in some mysterious way a part of His plan, then that would make it meaningless. It cannot be meaningless. Her child's life, his death, her suffering and that of her family, and his life now in heaven are full of meaning, purpose, and redemption. In some mysterious way that I cannot begin to understand, it is a part of His will, and a part of his plan.

Likewise, when something extremely good comes out of the midst of sin, it's hard to understand. How can a good God's plan include sin? Again, it comes to the "both/and". It is never His will for someone to sin, but His grace can still abound in the midst of that. His saving plan is not threatened by that sin. It can still be His will that things happened the way that they do.

I don't fully understand it all. I just know that if I am going to be able to trust God fully, I have to see His will in all of it. Every messy piece of it. Not as a puppet master, but as a loving Savior, who is redeeming it all.


  1. This is a very timely post. In fact I was just "ranting" to my husband last night about that same tension and trying to make sense of it all. Sometimes it is hard to understand, but I keep coming back to that both/and that you describe. Hubby explained to me the concept of God's antecedent and consequent will in the example of Joseph in the Bible. "God has an antecedent will and a consequent will. In his antecedent will God did not want Joseph sold into slavery by his brothers because that would be wanting them to sin. In his antecedent will he used Joseph’s brothers sin of selling him into slavery to bring about something good." I think that helps me understand the tension, which is so much more beautiful and easier to accept than a simple "It's all part of God's plan" comment I recently received, which is what sent me reeling last night. Thanks for posting!

  2. I have always felt uncomfortable when someone would say "It's all part of God's plan", but couldn't articulate why. You tackle it well, as does Grace of Adoption's husband.

  3. I like the both/and idea of trying to discern God's will. I know suffering is part of God's plan and it is His intention for us to turn the suffering into something good. That is completely hard at times. I just try to keep doing God's will even though I just don't understand it all and not always sure what I should be doing. Life is a journey, that is for sure. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this topic.

  4. It is never comforting to hear coined phrases of any kind in hard times. Saying it is all part of God's plan is something that I hear many christians say... sometimes people who don't even believe in God say this... But as I have read through the Bible, it is like "grace of adoption" says, it is more of a bigger rescue plan that a prosperity gospel plan that much of popular media describes. Over and over in the Bible, whether it is part of the background of a history story, or right from the lips of Jesus in John 16:33, it say that we will have trials and tribulations. We live in a sinful and fallen world. We live with the consequences of sin, whether that be the people in charge of us like presidents, kings etc. or consequences of our own doing. For example, King David, in the bible, it says he was a man after God's heart. When David cried out to be forgiven for the bad things he did as a king, God forgave him, but the consequences did not go away. Bathsheba's murdered husband did not come back to life, David had to deal with all the conflict of having multiple wives, and because he did not trust God about taking a census, there was indeed extreme problems in this family to the point all his kids were killing each other... Not to mention, how much all of this bad example had on the people King David ruled over. The truth is, someone is always watching no matter who you are, and all your actions and words can make a profound difference in someone life. We can improve someones life or we can ruin it! For that reason as well, there are so many warnings in the bible to not take the faith lightly, to count the cost, to be an ambassador, to not lead someone to sin, to not be like the hypocritical pharisees of that day who made people twice the sinners they were...

    If a person was to read the Bible from front to back thinking about the theme cause and effect, you will see how much each person (especially those in leadership) can make a big difference good or bad.

    I say all this to say, that we have God to cling to in this life but it does not guarantee that we will not have hard day, that we wont be effected by the problems of people around us or get a free get out of jail card when we make big mistakes. That is why I say it is more of a rescue plan. Jesus died on the cross and rose again so that by faith we have the hope of heaven. That we are not walking in darkness or have to do anything alone no matter how hard the circumstances are. Many people blame God for all the wrong in the world, but if we had listened to him in the first place, or even started right now to listen to what he told us to do in the Bible, this world would be a much better place!