“I don’t know why this is part of God’s plan.”
Have you ever said these words to a friend or thought them to yourself in your head in the middle of a really hard time? I’m right there with you. In the midst of the toughest things that I’ve gone through, I’ve wondered why a “good God” would include my suffering in His plan.
Want to know what I’ve learned recently? Our suffering, our heartbreaks, our deepest pains… these things are not in God’s plan.
I’ve seen so many people that I love go through things I’d never wish on my worst enemy. I’ve sat with them, cried with them, tried to understand with them. Everyone has some sort of belief system (even denial is a belief system), and most people use the toughest times to turn to God and say, “why?” We seek comfort in understanding why things happen, but sometimes we just have to accept the fact that we’ll never know. And once we reach a place of beginning to pick up the pieces, we start to make ourselves feel better. Or make our loved ones feel better. And we say things like this-
“Trust God, this is all part of His plan.”
I am guilty of saying those words, trying to comfort a crying friend. I had no idea that this was probably causing more harm than good, as I was telling my friend that God planned for her heartbreak to happen. It might make someone feel better in the moment, but it can ultimately skew their belief in God and say that He is the cause and the planner of their misery. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to follow a God like that. If he caused my friend’s cancer or miscarriage, if he planned for her partner to cheat, if he willed this child to be physically or sexually abused, I’m out.
Recently, I’ve spent time intentionally getting to know the character of God while also walking with loved ones through these incredibly painful seasons. I’ve wrestled with this myself as I’ve gone through my own path of pain.
My relationship with Jesus was built through coming to understand the depths of his love for me- that he lived and died on a cross for me, resurrecting 3 days later, defeating death so that I could spend eternity with Him in heaven. Through reading the Bible, through prayer and intentional time with the Lord, I’ve come to see that He is good. If He did all this to love us, He is not going to give us terrible things like cancer and miscarriages and abuse. His word tells us over and over and over again that He is good. His word also tells us about the plans He has for us:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11
There are so many stories and verses in His book that show us of his love for us, nothing greater than the cross. So why would he do all this out of love for us, just to hurt us? Why would he tells us he has plans not to harm us, only to hurt us?
It. Is. Not. His. Plan.
It goes back to the beginning. He created us with a free will, meaning he gave us the ability to choose to love and follow Him, rather than force us. This says so much about how we should love, but that’s for another time. Since the beginning, people have used this free will to choose ourselves over Him, otherwise known as sin. And sin has its consequences. Fast-forward to 2019, and the world is mixed up in sin and so much craziness. A lot of the time, we may not even realize we are sinning. But all of our sin, even the ones we don’t recognize, have consequences. God doesn’t try to keep us from sin to keep us from good things. The truth is, He knows the consequences and wants to keep us from hurting ourselves and others. A lot of pain in our lives comes as consequences to our sin. A lot of pain our lives cones as consequences to other people’s sin. And a lot of pain in our lives comes from the fact that, once we begin to follow the Lord, we have a real enemy, who does have some power in this world as well.
Please hear me, I am not saying that you sinned and your consequence is having a child pass away, cancer, abandonment. I am not saying that at all! So much of the pain we go through is not even a result of our actions. There is so much we might never get an answer or reason for on this side of eternity. But what we do have right here, right now, forever and always, is the open arms of a God who loved us enough to die for us, so that if we choose, we will never have to be separated from Him. He longs to carry us through our painful situations, and He PROMISES that while He did not cause our heartbreaks, He has the power and love to create beauty from our ashes and work everything out for our good. He does not cause suffering, but He does not waste it. He takes it and loves us and makes us look more like Him in every situation that we go through.
The Bible is full of scriptures and stories about the Lord’s goodness and how carries us through hard times. (If he carries us through, that definitely means he didn’t cause them!) Here are some of my favorites:
- The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. – Exodus 14:14
- And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28
- The Lord is my protector; he is my strong fortress. My God is my protection, and with him I am safe. He protects me like a shield; he defends me and keeps me safe. – Psalm 18:2
- *David’s song of praise after the Lord delivered him from his enemies* – 2 Samuel 22
- For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. – Psalm 91:11-12
- Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all. –Psalm 34:19
- So we may boldly say: ‘The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me? – Hebrews 13:6