Most of us like to plan ahead. At the office, I schedule meetings weeks or even months in advance. At home, my wife and I sort out what we should do next weekend, and sometimes compare calendars with our children, trying to set vacation plans for the year ahead.
But I’ve learned to hold plans loosely. I have discovered that often my life does not proceed in the way I expected. Our so-called perfect plan may take detours with an unexpected health diagnosis, job change, or family concern.
As believers, how should we react when our best-laid plans go awry? In Christian circles, I often hear people pray using the phrase, “If God so wills . . . ” It is not that we don’t have confidence that God can heal or that He can secure us a new job. It is because we, as believers, are aware that we have a limited perspective. We don’t have the Lord’s divine omniscience. Even more than the requests we offer, we want His will to be done in our lives.
Joseph is an extraordinary example of this truth. Here was a young man whose life did not go according to plan. Joseph’s brothers were jealous of their younger brother and plotted against him. They threatened to kill him (Gen. 37:20) and then sold him into servitude for twenty shekels of silver (v. 28).
Years later, when Joseph looked back at the terrible things that had happened in his life, he said, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Gen. 50:20). Would Joseph have chosen this plan? Certainly not! But God worked through all of the events in Joseph’s life to bring good for His people.
What a comfort to realize that God’s perspective is clearer than our own. Isaiah 55:8–9 explains, “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’”
We try to be responsible with our plans, but we also hold those plans loosely: “If God so wills.” We have a God who not only knows us intimately, but who orders our lives. What a comfort to know that He goes before us. In Him, we have both a purpose and the best plan.