God’s Plan

I was talking with a friend the other day who is job-hunting.  There was a promising lead on a good position, but it fell through.  In a conversation he had with another person, that person comforted him by telling him that it must not have been in God’s plan for him.

Translation:  quit feeling bad about this missed opportunity.  
My translation may be a bit harsh.  But really, what else is someone supposed to draw from that statement?  How about the following:
  1. I know what God’s plan is but you obviously don’t or you wouldn’t have even bothered trying for that job in the first place.
  2. Every misfortune is just preparation for something even better.
  3. We should never feel bad about anything because all of it is in God’s plan for us.
  4. Faithfulness gives us insider knowledge of what God is doing.
Again, that may be a bit on the harsh side.  I have no doubt his buddy was trying to cheer him up.  It didn’t work, though.
I don’t know what God’s plan is for my life in terms of the individual particulars of a given day or week.  I know in broad brushstrokes that He wants me to fulfill my vocational duties – be a good father, a good husband, a good neighbor, a good worker, a good friend, etc.  He wants me to live(to the best of my ability with his empowerment)  the way He designed me to live.  But I can’t claim to know what lane of the freeway He wants me in.  I can’t claim that my mortgage company’s lack of customer service is part of his plan.  
I know that God the Father is at work in his creation because He gives me a behind the scenes glimpse through Scripture.  But beyond a divine appearance (and even that I’d probably be skeptical of), I can’t know for certain what is or is not part of God’s plan for my life.  
If I want to comfort someone who is suffering with disappointment or fear or sorrow, my uncertainty of God’s plan in that particular issue doesn’t mean I don’t have anything to say, however.  Far from it!  There’s lots I can say – lots you can say.  But we don’t have to make it up.  We shouldn’t make it up.  Let’s say what God himself has given us to say.
You can comfort your friend with what we know is God’s plan for them – that regardless of joy or sorrow or boredom, their faith and trust and hope is in a God who loves them, who has died for them and who has promised them that they are his in baptism, and will remain so through faith forever.  Sorrow and joy and boredom are not erased in this plan of God, but they find their proper perspective, their proper relationship to everything else in our lives.  
It can be a bummer that my buddy didn’t get the job.  It’s OK to be disappointed about that and even frustrated.  But those feelings are contextualized by realizing that even in the midst of this setback, God loves him, will never abandon him, and has made him his own.  
Be with those who suffer and sorrow and joy.  Allow them the space to feel these things, but be willing and able to speak of a greater hope and joy than temporary contentment.  That is God’s ultimate plan.  

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