Surrender to God’s Plan A or our Plan B? Now that sounds like one of those “no-brainer” questions to any professing Christian! Of course God’s way is best – Paul says so in Romans 8:28 “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (NASB)
I read Psalm 84 recently. And as I started reading I thought, “Wow! What a beautiful psalm!” and with those “selahs” in there reminding me to pause and think about what I was reading, it was one of those really good times of reading scripture. Then I got to verse 11. “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly. O Lord of hosts, How blessed is the man who trusts in You!” Psalm 84:11-12 (NASB). It isn’t that I suddenly disliked the psalm but I couldn’t help but wonder…again…why I have been suffering with a situation I did not create, for over three years and it shows no sign of going away.
I have tried hard to understand what the reason might be for this ongoing misery. Maybe what I think is a good thing – meaning, relief from a miserable situation that stifles everything I think about or try to do during my day and visits me in the form of bad dreams at night – God doesn’t think of as good. However, I really don’t think that’s it. I could see where it might be so if He withheld winning the lottery from me or something like that. But God’s own Word tells us that He wants us to have joy (“Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great;” Matthew 5:12 NASB); peace (“For you will go out with joy And be led forth with peace;” Isaiah 55:12 NASB); victory (“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” Romans 8:37 ESV); power (“For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power” 1 Corinthians 4:20 ESV); hope (“and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” Romans 5:5 ESV); strength (“I can do all things through him who strengthens me” Philippians 4:13 ESV); wisdom (“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” James 1:5 ESV); and in general, the abundant life (“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” John 10:10 NASB).
I’ve read lots of blogs and sermons that express the overall explanation of self-examination to be sure we are walking uprightly. And assuming we are, we’re asking God for an end to the suffering and He’s not delivering, so it either isn’t good for us or it isn’t time. The solution: Just trust Him and His timing because He knows when we need what. Every bit of that is true and I believe it deep in the core of my being. But I have times of weakness and begin to get very discouraged waiting for that “good thing He will not withhold.” Let me see…what could I do to make things turn out the way I want them to faster than they seem to be progressing? (Plan B developing!)
Maybe He is waiting for me to become obedient. In 1 Peter 3:7 we see that our prayers can be hindered if we are disobedient, but painstaking self-examination and having beseeched the Almighty doesn’t back up that as my problem.
Ah! Maybe I don’t have enough faith for God to answer this prayer. I know that how we pray is just as important as what we pray for. In James 1:6-8 we are told: “But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded [doubting, hesitating] man, unstable in all his ways.” (NASB) Much prayer and again, self-examination, have left me without an “aha” moment of enlightenment, but maybe…
Maybe it isn’t the right time. I suppose that is possible. But even the precious silver and gold that endure the refiner’s fire are eventually refined. At least there is an end to the step of refining, and I’m still being “cooked” so maybe I’m a real hard case. And I grumbled. Then I recalled something I read that Dr. Neil Anderson wrote – “God is our Father and like any parent He doesn’t appreciate grumbling, complaining children, especially since this Father sacrificed His only begotten son for us.” I don’t grumble anymore but I still wonder why this goes on for so long. So, it’s back to the scriptures I go.
1 Peter 5:6 (NASB) “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time,” Isaiah 40:31, Ecclesiastes 3:1, Lamentations 3:25-26, 2 Peter 3:8 (NASB) “But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.” Galatians 6:9 (NASB) “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” These reminders about patience and waiting on God’s timing just keep popping up! I am so weary and I really think I’ve waited long enough so what can I do to speed the hoped for relief along? (Still working on developing of Plan B.)
And then there is that cherished promise in John 14:14, “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” (NASB) that makes me wonder why it seems to not happen when it is promised that it will.
The “conclusion of the matter,” to use the wise King Solomon’s phrase, is this: don't believe everything you feel and think. Stand firm on the Word of God rather than your feelings. Walking by sight is also walking by our feelings, also known as walking according to the flesh, and we know that 2 Corinthians 5:7 plainly tells us, “for we walk by faith, not by sight—“ (NASB). Although we often don’t feel like it, the fact is, "The Lord is near to the brokenhearted" (Psalm 34:18 NASB). His Word says so and that is what we need to believe and remind ourselves of as many times as it takes until it comes naturally.
Sometimes, probably often, we believe we are having the right attitude in some area of our Christian life but have actually missed the mark—not meditating on scripture to get the real meaning – neglecting to take everything into consideration that the Bible says on a given subject. I say “neglect” because it covers the times that neglect is an “oops!” and those times when it is our own “rewriting” of some of the more difficult scriptures to suit our preferences. Yes, it happens. How many people would actually admit they have done it though?
David's psalms are an example of how to be honest with God and not forsake the truth of His word just because it doesn't feel good like we want it to. In spite of straightforward bluntness about how he felt, David always returned to the truth of God’s promises as they had been proven in his own life over and over again. (Plan B is looking like a futile endeavor now!)
“The Lord of hosts has sworn saying, “Surely, just as I have intended so it has happened, and just as I have planned so it will stand,” Isaiah 14:24 (NASB)
How could I ever come up with a “Plan B” that would work better than what the Creator of all has ordained to happen? Another “no-brainer” question.