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The Christian Life

Treasured Plans – Understanding God’s Purpose For Us

By Steph Nickel

Have you ever wondered what God’s purpose for you is, especially when your plans go sideways? Steph reminds us that God always has a plan!

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Count It All Joy

god's purposeHave you ever made extensive plans only to have them go sideways?

I know I have—and I’m pretty sure the same is true of you.

Isaiah 55:8-9 gives us some insight as to why this is. These verses say, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (ESV).

I know there are many reasons our plans don’t work out the way we intended, but I’m certain God is involved and will keep His promise in Romans 8:28: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (ESV).

I remember one incredible summer several years ago. Our finances were beyond tight and we really didn’t know what the future had in store. But I had spent hours in God’s Word and prayer and I could honestly voice the following realization:

“Lord, if we have to be on the verge of bankruptcy for me to remain this close to You, then please keep us there.”

Humanly speaking, we would rather avoid unemployment, illness, and broken relationships. But these and other struggles can result in tremendous spiritual growth. This is why the Lord commands us in James 1:3 to “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds” (ESV).

He goes on to say, in verses 3-4, “For you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (ESV).

As Christians, we believe this on one level, but we find it hard to “count it all joy” when our plans crumble at our feet. It’s easier to look back and rejoice after we’ve seen how God was at work in the situation. But what if we could look ahead with confidence, knowing God will fulfill all His promises? What a difference that would make—even when life doesn’t go as planned.

Understanding God’s Purpose For Us

I admit, for many years, I questioned the sincerity of those who seemed to have a positive attitude no matter how intense the struggle they were facing. Were they putting on an act? Were they too proud to admit they had doubts and fears?  Were they really that confident in God and His ways?

Even when we do trust the Lord, we can be blindsided—most often when we least expect it.

Last weekend I left my hubby in Toronto for a weeklong stay. He was to have two hernias repaired (which he did). I had plenty on my To Do list and had no idea I would begin to miss him even before I left the clinic parking lot.

God's purposeI am not typically a worrier and don’t mind sleeping alone, but that first night I woke us from a very troubling nightmare and was not at all impressed, unsettled even. (It might have had something to do with reading a mystery novel before bed, but we won’t talk about that.)

I got up, turned on the light, and contemplated what I should do—considering the fact I had no desire to go back to sleep. I prayed, read a little more (from a different book), and prayed some more.

When I did so, the Lord brought something to mind. I ought to pray for those going through far more challenging circumstances: a lady who just lost her husband of many, many years; a relative in her late 30s who is dealing with throat cancer (and she’s never smoked a day in her life); friends whose marriages are in serious trouble, and so many more.

His Plans Are Higher Than Ours

Will God work these situations out for good? He will.

Does He use things I wouldn’t have planned to bring about His purposes in my life? Absolutely.

As His child, you can rest assured that He will do the same for you. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to memorize Romans 8:28 and remind yourself of this wonderful truth often.

And as we make our plans, let’s do so prayerfully, asking God to have His way in our life, knowing His plans are higher than ours.

Today’s devotional was originally written as a guest post for author Janet Sketchley’s blog, “Tenacity.”

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Steph Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel is a freelance writer and editor. She is the coauthor of Paralympian Deb Willows’ award-winning memoir, Living Beyond My Circumstances, published by Castle Quay Books.

Steph is a member of InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship and The Word Guild. She and her husband of over 30 years live in Southwestern Ontario, Canada.

Steph’s goal is to nurture and inspire. She blogs at Steph Nickel’s Eclectic Interests. She also guest posts regularly on the topics of Christian living, writing, and fitness. You can visit her website, stephbethnickel.com, to learn more about her.

Read and hear more from Steph Nickel on the contributor’s page or at Steph Nickel’s Eclectic Interests.

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