We have all heard it said before that God has a plan for your life. And it’s not just any plan but a good plan. These aren’t just ideas we conjure up to make ourselves feel good, this is what God has promised. In Jeremiah 29:11 God tell us “’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.’”
If this is true (and it is) I want to pose a question to you: why doesn’t it always feel good? Why is it that sometimes in the middle of God’s good plan, something happens that just doesn’t make any sense? If this has happened to you can you give me an amen! What do you do when God’s good plan for your life seems to go sideways? When instead of everything going right, it feels all wrong? Today I want to help you understand what to do when God doesn’t make sense.
Why Does This Happen?
There are two reasons why sometimes we feel that God’s plan is going south in our lives. They are expectation and elevation.
Quite frankly when you hear that God is good and he has good plans in store for your life, you generally come to a simple conclusion…everything that happens in my life is going to be good. Consider for a moment Joseph in the Old Testament. God gave him a dream in Genesis 37 where his brothers and his parents would eventually bow down to him. I don’t know if Joseph fully understood the dream but it probably created in him an expectation of good things happening in his life. After all his father loved him and he had no reason to think otherwise.
You and I often react the same way. Knowing that God our father loves us and he has the best planned for us, we expect it all to go well. We don’t give any room to anything else. The promise of Romans 8:28 is that God will work everything for our good, not that everything will always feel good.
The second reason God doesn’t make sense sometimes is because his thinking is far above ours. In Isaiah 55:8-9 God reminds us that his thoughts and ways are not our ways. In fact, they are far above or elevated over our thoughts and ways. This means that the methods and strategies that God has designed to fulfill this good plan in your life go far beyond your thought process. In other words, he’s going to get you there, he just may take a different route to do it.
Keeping these two things in mind, I want to give you five things to do to help you understand God better when he doesn’t make sense.
1. You Have to be Honest with God
I have often heard people say you can’t question God. My response to that has always been why not? God is your heavenly Father. You have every right to come before him with everything you don’t understand, in fact he encourages it. 1 Peter 5:7 says “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” That word in the Greek means your cares, your concerns, your worries in other words…everything. Prayer only works if you are completely honest and transparent with God. Don’t worry, he can handle every emotion you have. Whether it’s fear, anger, worry, concern, joy, sadness, doubt, uncertainty – he can handle it.
In Matthew 11 John the Baptist was in prison. He was there after having preached about the coming of the Messiah; after having baptized Jesus and declared him the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world; after seeing the Holy Spirit descend on him and hearing the voice from heaven declare this is my Son with whom I am well pleased; after seeing and hearing of the miracles. Jesus said of those born among women, there is no one greater than John the Baptist.
This John from his prison cell sent his disciples to ask Jesus a question. “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Matthew 11:3). John was uncertain. He was unsure. He didn’t know, so what did he do? He asked. And when Jesus heard the question, he wasn’t offended. He responded. Be certain today you can be open and honest before God. Trust me, you won’t offend him. In fact he invites you into his presence.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).
2. Learn from Those Who Have Come before You
Romans 15:4 gives us a wonderful reminder,
“Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.”
Everything that was written before was to teach us. Remember when Paul wrote this to the church in Rome, there wasn’t a New Testament, all they had was the Old Testament. Paul encourages them to learn from what God has done, study his track record.
What I love about the people we read about in the Bible is that God doesn’t leave anything out. We see their struggles, their questions, their doubts. Yes, we see their victories and successes as well, but God doesn’t leave out the challenges they faced to get to the destination God had for them. God did this to encourage you. How amazing is God’s love for you that he would include all of this in his word so you can understand that you can trust his track record.
It’s like he’s saying “Yes my child there will be times where what I am doing won’t make sense to you. However, as you have seen in the lives of those who have come before you, I will always come through. I have fulfilled my promises before and I will do the same for you.”
3. You Have to Stop Blaming Yourself
One of the lies of Satan is to get you to believe that if God isn’t doing something fast enough in your life, it’s your fault. If the train rolls off the tracks, it’s your fault. Have you ever asked the question why me or what did I do to deserve this? Many times, the answer is nothing. However, I am not talking about people who choose to willfully live in sin, that’s a whole different conversation.
I want to give you hard truth. We live in a sinful, fallen world. There will be things that will happen simply because of this fact. This reality will sometimes leave questions that may never get answered on this side of eternity. If and when these things happen, don’t blame yourself. If you are walking with God and obeying his word, even then life will happen. We have to understand that as believers our hope is not just for this life. All of God’s goodness will not be experienced in this life. He has even more planned for you. Stop blaming yourself when something unexpected happens. Remember that it’s not your fault and recognize the best is yet to come.
4. You Have to Believe and Trust
“For we live by faith, not by sight.”
The hard part about faith is that many times the circumstances don’t always align. Where you are going doesn’t always match where you are. If you remember Joseph’s story, he was headed to the palace yet he had to go through prison before he got there. This is where faith and trust come into play. Faith says “I don’t know what you are doing but I know you are working it out for my good. Because I believe that, then I can trust you.”
Just like we often group grace and mercy together, faith and trust are necessary if you are going to understand what God is doing in your life.
5. Remember Jesus
One of the best ways to understand God when life doesn’t make sense is to remember Jesus. While we understand what Jesus did looking back on it now, his disciples and the people who were alive while it was happening didn’t get it. Jesus is our great champion, the Son of God, the miracle worker, the one who speaks and the winds and waves obey him. He is the one who has all power and authority, but he is going to die and this death is going to bring us life? No one truly understood it while it was happening. The pieces of the puzzle didn’t come together until after the resurrection. That’s when it started to make sense. Notice Peter’s words in the book of Acts:
“God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear … Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah” (Acts 2:32-33, 36).
By remembering Jesus’ life, you will understand that sometimes the way God gets you to the desired result doesn’t always follow the script you think it should. No one at the time thought that Jesus’ death on the cross was a good idea, but now we know it was the best thing that has ever happened for all of us.
It Will All Come Together
As you can see the promises and plans of God for your life are good. Nonetheless, along the way to getting there you may encounter some things that will make you want to question that. When this happens (and chances are it will) remember how great God’s love is for you and trust that his love for you will never fail. His good plan will be accomplished in your life and there is nothing anyone can do to stop it. As the Apostle Paul reminds us:
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
Walk with God today and know that God has nothing but the best planned for you. Even when it doesn’t make sense.