Reflections: The best-laid plans pale with God's intentions

Saturday, January 31, 2009

In the 33rd Psalm, the eternal plans of God are contrasted with the temporal ones of humanity. "The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart from generation to generation." (Psalm 33:10-11) Man's plans fail often but God's never do.

One wonders why God allowed the recent destructive ice storm to occur again in the region. I thought I had many things I needed to accomplish. Most people were unable to leave their homes for a few days because of the slick roads. Others were without electrical power. Regardless, few were able to carry on as usual.

You wonder why you need to bother with trying to have structure when a life-changing event can occur overnight. However, regardless of what happens, God has a reason. "What is the reason?" we often ask.

When I received news that the area was to expect a major storm, first I hoped it wouldn't happen. Then when it did, I wondered why. Many important events were in place for the week. Worthy ones, I thought.

Then my mind wandered back to many I've known who experienced a premature death -- at least premature in human estimations. Why, why, why? we ask. Then, often after time has passed, you see that what you misunderstood was for the best after all.

Regarding the ice storm, I was able to see some benefits of it if I looked deeply enough. One good was that we were forced to stay inside and be together as a family. No one could leave to get away. We could have fussed and complained. Instead the family pulled together. The children played outside on the ice, and we had an abundance of time to interact with each other.

The plans I had made failed to materialize, but the resulting lessons were more fruitful. Such happenings indeed occur for a reason. We realize that God is still on his throne, and his plans include all things, even "chance happenings." That principle is stated in Proverbs 16:33. The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord. The passage tells us that every cast of the dice and every flip of the coin have been planned by God. Although it's hard to believe, nothing is impossible for God. When something unexpected comes into your life you have every right to look for God's handiwork in it.

Ellen Shuck holds degrees in psychology, religious education and spiritual direction and provides spiritual direction to people at her office.

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