Sometimes life throws us some difficult curve balls. One wonders if God is really in control or even cares about what’s happening. Those are time times I am reminded of the verses from Jeremiah 29:11-13
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for Me wholeheartedly, you will find Me.”
In the past few weeks friends and family members have faced the loss of loved ones through aging and suicide. I’ve spoke with someone who grew up in a cult and has just recently seen her 30-year-old sibling come out of the cult. I’ve watched more and more people deal with health issues, job losses, financial difficulties, facing consequences for breaking the law, and marital problems. I want to ask God, “If He really cares, why doesn’t He do something to stop the pain?”
A while back I studied Carol Kent’s book Between a Rock and a Grace Place and tonight I found myself reflecting on a portion from her book:
If you too feel caught in one of those tight spots that seem unusually difficult, if not unbearable, I pray that you will come to realize that the pain of being in this place need not cause you to lose hope. If you press into the Rock instead of trying to get around it, you will discover a surprise far better than a birthday or a Christmas gift. On the road that is your life right now, you can find a new way of thinking about your circumstances, as well as an astonishing experience of grace, tailor-made just for you. As you encounter God on the way, not in the way, you may come to know Him as you never have before. Remember what Olympian Eric Liddle said, ‘Circumstances may appear to wreck our lives and God’s plans, but God is not helpless among the ruins.’
I’m so grateful God is in control of the universe from before time began. I’m glad we have the assurance that He cares so much for each of us that He blessed us with life-saving grace of His Son, Jesus Christ, our LORD.
Kent goes on to say, “God works best through broken people who know they do not have all the answers. He can use people who have exhausted their own resources and finally realize that negotiating the tight spots of life is not something they do by themselves.” I’m so grateful God uses ordinary people, people who have walked through pain and found the joy and hope only God can give.
Philip Yancey says, “The kind of faith God values seems to develop best when everything fuzzes over, when God stays silent, when the fog rolls in.” God gives more grace for each trial and burden that comes our way. The more we rely on Him, the more He answers and provides for us in ways that could only come from His hand.
Abundantly grateful for God’s presence through the difficult circumstances of our lives.
I really appreciate Jeremiah 29:11 and even verses 12 & 13. These are GREAT words of assurance – knowing God has plans for us. But if these verses are read in context, this is from a letter from Jeremiah the prophet, to the people who were going to live in exile for 70 years! I’m sure there were days they wondered if God had forgotten His chosen people. I’m sure there were days they wondered if God really knew what plans He had in store for His people.
To know that God intentionally exiled His people and told them to multiply, plan to live there and be productive and after 70 years He would come and do all the good that He had promised. God warned the people to stay away from the evils of the land.
I’m “only” 55. I can’t imagine knowingly living 70 years in a land of exile that was planned by God. Going forward only with the promise that He would come after 70 years and “do for the Israelites all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again.”
I’m grateful God is in control of my life. I’m grateful He has a plan for my life. As you read verses 12 and 13 it becomes clear that God wants His people to draw continually closer to Him.
As I said in my previous post, life has been a roller coaster ride the past couple of weeks. Some of the tension was due to the fact my husband gets about 10 days vacation over the holidays, and I’m used to being home alone all day ;-). There was a day this week I was at odds with everybody, including my husband. I finally asked him to let me have some alone time / God time. I realized I needed my “exile time” from everyone else, except God. The busyness of the holidays, family get-togethers, travel, a medical procedure all created tension and didn’t allow for much individual quiet time with God. Oh I spent time talking with Him – on the run. I read His word – quickly. I just hadn’t spent time just relishing in God’s presence; being filled with God’s embracing of my heart.
I know God has plans for my life – but there are times when I would really like to know God’s plans. Prior to my husband’s medical procedure, I’d like to have known the outcome (which was good). After losing a significant income source, I’d like to know God’s plan for our financial future. After dealing with relationship issues, I’d like to know how they will be resolved. But if I knew those plans ahead of time, I’d also know ahead of time that I would be living with chronic illnesses long before the symptoms appeared. Would it have helped? Maybe, but maybe it would have made me rely on what I could do instead of what God has done through me as I’ve learned my strength to handle the illnesses comes from Him.
God’s timing is always perfect. He knows fully the plans He has for us, even before we were created. We are blessed He is in control of all things.
Jeremiah 29:10-13 ‒
10 This is what the Lord says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 12 In those days when you pray, I will listen. 13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.
Enjoy the blessings of God’s perfect plan for you, and precious times of exile with Him! ~ Faye
This is a week where the rubber hits the road – do I really believe in God being in control of all things?
Background: Sunday morning my team is leading worship. The pastor is preaching on one of the 7 deadly sins – Laziness vs Zeal, or a passion to live for Christ out of gratitude for our salvation. It’s also a Sunday where we will remember the Reformation by looking at the five tenants of the Reformed faith – Grace Alone, Faith Alone, Scripture Alone, Christ Alone, Glory to God Alone. God’s word tells us in Hebrews 11:1 that
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen.” or as said in the NIV – “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
This week is one of those weeks where what I say I believe has to become reality. I’ve learned of a 30 year old wife who has been diagnosed with bladder cancer; a 50 year old friend who just found out she has Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma; a friend’s dad had a failed surgery on his heart and the doctors are looking for new options; many friends struggles with relationships with family members; the flooding in Bangkok, Thailand is affecting a couple I know. It just seems like everything is coming in waves. Life is full of disappointments, dangers and the unknown. So each day has been spent in a lot of prayers for others. Tonight I went for a walk in a nature setting and just prayed to God about my friends. What a privilege we have to share intimately with God our heartaches. Each day comes with its abundance of problems, but when we put our FAITH in God, each struggle is shared by Someone who is much bigger than you or I.
Faith is the confident assurance, the conviction that God is going ahead of us on our pathway of life. He knows what struggles we will face ahead. He is preparing us for what we will have to deal with in the future. We need to have the confidence that God knows what is best for us, and He loves us so much.
So this is a week where I need to rely heavily on my faith in God otherwise life would be so overwhelming. I rely on Paul’s words in Romans 15:13
“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”
What an incredible blessing to have the assurance of what we hope for so much so, that we will be filled to overflowing by the Holy Spirit. By the way, while I was pouring out my heart to God, I asked Him to give me some evidence that He was hearing me (sometimes He is silent and I have to trust that He keeps His promise to hear me), but today He blessed me by having two friends come along that very private path. They listened and encouraged me in a way that only God could have done.
Enjoying God’s abundant blessings of hope, joy and peace ~ Faye
So I’ve started this writing/blog thing and I made it clear, it wasn’t what I was planning on doing. Last night I was reading a devotional on Hannah, which I figured I’d use for my Weds Bible study, but God had other ideas. As I read the article it showed how Hannah sought God’s will – she poured out her heart and she boldly requested His involvement. Well believe me, that’s what I’ve been doing the past few weeks, asking God, “Is He really sure about this venture?”. When I was at the end of the reading, it was like God was confirming for me, “Yes,” because the author wrote — “The truth is, it’s possible that we have been singled out so that God can reveal Himself to us in a new way. Unanswered prayer does not mean prayer refused or ignored. It may instead indicated that the Lord is at work on a much larger scale than we can know or imagine, becuase He indeed (here’s where I broke out laughing), ‘is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think’ (Ephesians 3:20).” God used MY verse! Needless to say, He got my attention. [Ginger Garrett, In Touch, October 2011]
However, He wasn’t done. This morning I was flipping through my day calendar [Reflections from the Heart of God, Roy Lessin] reading a few days because I was behind about 9 days. I think God intentionally had me miss the past 9 days until this morning because He KNEW I would still need the confirmation. So, Oct 5 says, “God is leading you on a prepared pathway and will perfectly lead you into the plans He has for your life. Take each step without concern about where the path is taking you. He has gone ahead of you like a scout who has already checked out the trail. Nothing that is ahead will take Him by surprise!” The next day was from Deuteronomy 31:8 – “The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” GREAT CONFIRMATION. But I’m still arguing with Him, “are You really sure about this?” Crazy, I should know better than to argue with God’s plans. The next day said, “For each STEP that GOD ASKS YOU TO TAKE today there will be GRACE, for each DECISION there will be DIRECTION, and for each TASK there will be STRENGTH.”
I’ve been asking God how I should fill my time over the past year and a half and God’s decided to do it in a way that is out of my comfort zone, but where I can share how incredibly every day He does bless us abundantly. He has shown me He will walk with me, in fact, He’s been there ahead of me making sure the way is clear for me if I follow His leading. How precious a God we serve. The final page of the calendar said, “You may not know all the details of your journey or clearly seewhere the trail is leading, but God will always give you enough light to take the next step.” Rejoicing in God’s timing and humor!
God’s richest blessings,