“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.”
It ain’t over til it’s over.
~ Yogi Berra
We are finite beings who tend to be very focused on what is right in front of us right now. A lot of our stress, worry, doubts, and fear stems from the fact that our picture is too small and our view is too limited. The “Big Picture” from God’s vantage point looks a lot different from ours.
God’s plans are much grander than we can imagine. The whole of each life is but one solitary note in God’s eternal symphony.
God’s plans are unstoppable. The devil can’t thwart Him and I can’t mess it up. God is more powerful than both of us.
But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.
Truly the fullness of God’s purposes reach far beyond our capacity for comprehension. While it is helpful to consider what God is up to when he allows us to suffer, this will only scratch the surface. Much of His purpose we will never know, much less understand this side of Heaven.
Like an iceberg, we may see only a sliver of God purpose peaking above the waves while the bulk of His glorious design waits concealed in the depths.
There is purpose in our pain. Knowing what that purpose is or even just knowing that it exists makes it much easier to endure and persevere.
Let’s look a little closer at several areas of purpose God has for us: Growth, Strength, Opportunity, Refinement, Trust, and Glory.
Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.
God desires us to grow in every good way and sometimes that means some part of us must surrender to death. Paradoxically, in God’s hands death can be used to multiply life. Before something new can begin, the old thing must come to an end.
Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.
God uses many things in life as strength training for soldiers in His army. We are in basic training. He is making us stronger.
Whatever we are living through today is what sets the stage for the next part of His great drama. Today just opens the door so we may enter further into His grand design tomorrow.
I have refined you, but not as silver is refined. Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering.
Isaiah 48:10, NLT
God uses suffering to help us release our impurities. This process allows us to more accurately reflect who God is to the world around us. We can’t come close to showing the world who Jesus is if we are filled with gunk. God wants to help us get the toxic stuff out of ourselves, much like you would cleanse a wound before bandaging it.
God is a skilled surgeon, not a hatchet murderer. He only causes pain to bring greater healing. He cuts only in order to remove infirmity. Trust His knowledge, skill, and the instruments He chooses.
During surgery, the patient is asleep, fully trusting the doctor. The doctor is a fallible imperfect human being. God knows everything and He never makes mistakes. Can’t we trust Him at least as much as we trust our doctor?
Can you imagine a patient being operated on trying to direct the surgeon on the best way to perform the surgery? It calls to mind a ridiculous picture, yet how often do we do that very thing to God? We try to tell him how to fix us and everyone else around us. Silly humans.
Trust the One you made you, designed you, and planned your life before he made creation to know what you need most right now.
But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us.
2 Corinthians 1:9b-10
God desires us to trust in Him more than we trust ourselves. We may have no confidence in our own flesh, but we have full confidence in God’s power to act in and through us. My husband calls this “God-fidence.”
He will kick the crutches we lean on out from under us so we will learn to lean on Him alone. (Prov 3:5-6) He’s not being cruel. He does this for our own benefit. We are much stronger when we lean on a perfect and all-powerful God than when we lean on wobbly props we have crudely fashioned from the stuff of this world. Nothing can ever come close to being an adequate substitution for God.
Glory – His and Ours
For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen.
Romans 11:36, NLT
whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31
The Westminster Shorter Catechism from 1647 states that our chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
We show the world how great and good Jesus is when we persevere through trials by His strength and grace. Our weakness displays His strength. He glorifies Himself through, not in spite of, our brokenness.
As we learn more and more that the pleasures of this world deceive and fail us, we find our true fulfillment and satisfaction in Him alone. Glorifying Him and enjoying Him become one and the same.
Our Future Glory
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Our present troubles are brief compared with an eternity of glory and rest that awaits us. God will share His glory with us—not because we deserve it or have earned it, but because He is good and He is generous.
And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.
This is your future, so live like it now! Know that God’s plans and purposes are unstoppable. He will achieve all He has determined to do—and we get to be a part of the glorious unfolding of His grand design.
“Glorious Unfolding” by Steven Curtis Chapman
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