“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” [Isaiah 55:8-9 (NLT)]
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.” [Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)]
My husband was partners with three others in a manufacturing business in another state. Periodically, the men would gather and discuss future plans. One of the partners, Joe, was a processing engineer. While he was near genius when it came to manufacturing and machinery, Joe had difficulty verbalizing his long-range plans and his partners often had trouble understanding his vision. They simply had to trust him to do his job. Without it making much sense to his partners, he’d gradually alter old equipment or build new machines, install shelving or racks, change the factory layout, or revise procedures. Given time, Joe’s plans would come to fruition and the others would understand why things had transpired as they had. A new system would be in place that always resulted in faster and more efficient production and a better quality product. Joe never let his partners down. Although they rarely understood his plan, they knew there was always a method to what sometimes appeared to be his madness.
Just as my husband and his partners rarely understood Joe’s visions, we often have difficulty understanding what God is doing in our lives when faced with challenges or when changes must be made. We tend to be creatures of habit and prefer doing things the old familiar way rather than learning a new and better way. God, however, is never satisfied with just being OK; He has great plans for us. It is only in hindsight that we finally understand why our lives took the turns they did. Looking back, I see how various difficulties and challenges caused me to mature in my faith, develop character and strength, and become more patient, peaceful and thankful. Those changes and the circumstances that caused them (most of which I didn’t appreciate at the time) enabled me to withstand the challenges of today. Moreover, the troubles of today will enable me to better withstand the challenges that are sure to arrive tomorrow or the day after. Just as Joe transformed the factory and its manufacturing processes, God wants to transform and perfect us.
Father, thank you for transforming our lives so that we can grow more like Christ. Forgive us when we rebel and question your plan. Remind us to look back and reflect on the many blessings we’ve received that originally came packaged as trouble, sorrow, and struggle. Thank you for never giving up on us.
Faith looks back upon the past, for her battles have strengthened her, and her victories have given her courage. She remembers that God has never failed her. … Therefore faith…can say, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life!” [Charles Spurgeon]