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May 9, 2013

Firsthand Experience | Day 24

God, What Are You Doing?

Today’s scripture to meditate on:  “ ‘I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” (Jeremiah 29:11)

The following is an excerpt from Firsthand: Ditching Secondhand Religion for a Faith of Your Own by Ryan and Josh Shook.

How many times have you found yourself praying that God would act? “Do something!” we cry out. “Change this! And please, Lord…do it now!”

I (Ryan) have to admit that I am always asking God to do something for me or to give something to me. Then when things don’t work out as I had hoped and prayed, I get angry and frustrated. I doubt God’s purpose for my life. I jump to conclusions like If God really loved me, He would have helped me get that job! Or kept me healthy. Or sent me money.

It’s embarrassing to admit, but I’ve found that it’s easy to doubt God’s actions when they don’t line up with my plans. Can you relate? But that logic doesn’t hold up. No, God’s plans and ours don’t always mesh, but that doesn’t mean He doesn’t know and care about what is best for us.

I guess it’s a maturity thing. As a teenager, I would get furious when my parents wouldn’t let me go out with friends on a school night or wouldn’t give me more money when I wanted to buy something. I would bitterly insist that my mom and dad didn’t really care about me. If they did, they would act differently. Right?

But looking back, I can see how much my parents really did love me. They weren’t trying to ruin my life; they just cared enough to try to save me from bad influences or greed or some other harm. I’m so thankful they kept me from making some really dumb mistakes and instead let me get upset about what “terrible” parents they were.

In the same way, we may never fully understand or agree with God’s plan, but that doesn’t mean He is not at work for our good. We may never fully understand or agree with God’s plan, but that doesn’t mean He is not at work for our good.

When my wife and I first moved to Los Angeles, we were confused by all the roads and highways. It would take us hours to find our way across town as we merged onto and off highways and ended up taking wrong turn after wrong turn. We’d comment to each other, “What were the city planners thinking when they decided to make this road dead-end here and start again five blocks later?”

Without a doubt you’ll experience times when it looks as if God is toying with your life. But He knows more than you do, and He loves you more than you even love yourself. As you journey through life, there will be dead ends, U-turns, and frustrating one-way streets. Not to mention traffic jams that leave you at a standstill.

You can choose to get angry, to fight what appears to be illogical and senseless planning on God’s part, to try to take control. I know I have. I am always looking for the next big thing that I want out of life. Not until I get that thing do I realize I completely missed out on the journey because I didn’t take the time to enjoy it. Over time, though, I’ve found it’s easier to keep a joyful heart when I remember my final destination and who is really in control of my life.

Our souls are eternal, and God made us to be with Him forever. If we think our final destination in the journey of life is supposed to be living in a big mansion with a gigantic TV and the most expensive car, then we will always doubt God when His plan doesn’t seem to work around our plans. But God has bigger and longer lasting things in mind for us than we can even imagine. And because God exists in the past, present, and future and He knows exactly what we need, He may not give us that thing we wanted, but He will always give us what we really need (Romans 8:28–30).