I’m in London right now, visiting a lovely friend from YWAM. (Hurray, reading week!) I got to attend her church home group with her last night, and a conversation kicked up about the sovereignty of God. What a topic, eh? I won’t pretend to even come close to understanding how God’s sovereignty interacts with His respect for our free will. It’s complicated, like most things in life. But tonight I was in bed pondering and praying, and a little piece of it went click as I had the thought “God’s will for us is not necessarily the same as His plan for us.”
God’s will is what He wants for us and, as I grew up hearing on repeat, “The Word of God is the will of God.” Scripture is very clear about what God wants for us. It’s full of things like
3 John 2 (KJV)
2 Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.
Deuteronomy 6:24 (ESV)
24 And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day.
God loves us. He wants the best for us, just like any loving father would want for His children. He wants us blessed and in perfect, beautiful relationship with Him. If that wasn’t what He wanted, it wouldn’t be what He has prepared for eternity. But that’s SO not how most of our lives look. In fact Scripture is also very clear that in spite of how God would like to see our lives go, they will often be full of persecution and heartache. What gives?
My mom made a really good parallel for me back a few months ago, while I was still in Nevada and having a bit of a rough time of it. (Aren’t mothers wise?) She brought up the movie Avengers: Infinity War, (SPOILER ALERT!) when Dr. Strange looks through all of the possible futures and tells the Avengers there is exactly one where they win. He then proceeds to do something he does NOT want to do, and hand over the time Infinity stone to Thanos because he knows it’s the only way they can ultimately win. I think God’s plan is kind of like that. It includes all of the times we fail or get sidetracked or see something shiny or decide we don’t like Him or do something really really stupid, and sees us through all of that to eventually get us to the victory. It’s all part of His plan not because He wishes or forces it all on us, but because He exists outside of time and knows how it’s all going to go down and has already planned for it. So in a weird way we’re always living in His Plan A, because He’s God and doesn’t require a plan B. But I also don’t think Plan A would always necessarily be His first choice of how things are going to go down.
I hate, HATE when I hear people say that something tragic happened because it was somehow God’s will. Don’t you put that evil intent on my God. There’s always an attempted explanation about how it was actually good in the grand scheme of things or something…but c’mon. We all know what love looks like, and I think if we’re honest with ourselves we know it doesn’t look like inflicting tragedy on someone “for their own good.” BUT He does have a tendency to redeem the tragedies in life, to use them for some good. And I think that’s because, though they may not be His will, they are part of His plan. Not a plan He inflicts on us. A plan He set up before the foundations of the world to catch us when He saw us fall; to meet us in the wilderness, right when He knew we would feel the most lost, as soon as we reach for Him. A plan that a timeless God can already see played out from start to finish and therefore has complete knowledge of and sovereignty over, yet one that is very much up to us. Like I said, complicated. But very very beautiful. And very very comforting.