Job lived in God’s world, spent time in God’s waiting room, and found out that it was all part of God’s will. It is God’s will that we live in the right way in a world gone wrong, and we can’t do that unless we understand a little of God’s plan. Job talked about the plan of God. He believed with all of his heart that there was one.
When trouble comes to you, it can often seem as if confusion reigns and there are no orderly workings anywhere in the whole universe. And yet Job insisted there was a plan. When someone messes up your plans, it’s a great joy to believe no one can mess up God’s plan for you!
What do we mean by “God’s plan”? It’s the same as His will – what He wants to happen. It’s what He has in mind. The apostle Paul told us that God’s will is “good, and acceptable, and perfect” (Rom. 12:2), but therein lies the trouble. How can you possibly believe you are in God’s will and that it is good when you are nursing a terminally ill patient, standing in horror in the killing fields of Cambodia, or reading about the genocide in Rwanda? What’s good, perfect, or acceptable about any of that? What’s good, perfect, and acceptable about a marriage that ends, a child who goes off the deep end, or a church that splits?
The only logical conclusion you can come to is that we must be talking about something else when we talk about the good, perfect, and acceptable will of God. Again, in Philip Yancey’s words, we mustn’t “confuse life with God.”
First of all, we need to believe that God is an orderly God, that He does have a purpose, and that His purpose hasn’t changed. He is a purposeful God. He is not haphazard or random. His universe works like heavenly clockwork. There are laws of nature in the universe that the life of other worlds depends on, and the Bible claims that God wrote, implements, and controls those laws. In the same way, the laws of human behavior that God has ordained will bring order to the chaos of our relationships if we let Him control us. He has a purpose and plan for the creatures of His universe as surely as He has a plan for that universe.
Second, God has the power to maintain the created order of things that submit to His control. He is omniscient and omnipotent and “all things were created by Him and for Him” (Col. 1:16). There is an overarching purpose for it all: that all of creation brings glory to the Creator, and rightly so. When we order our lives according to the God of order, good and glory are the results.
Third, it is God’s plan that everything out of control be brought into subjection to Him to honor and praise His name. What, then, does He have in mind for the wicked and for this world gone mad? A plan of renewal, regeneration, and redemption. This plan includes that creatures having a free will – namely, human beings like us – willingly accept His way to that renewal or reflect it. One way or another God’s plan is, in the end, a new heaven and a new earth (Rev. 21:1), where righteousness dwells and where all who plan to be part of His plan will live together in harmony. To this end, all things are working together for that ultimate good (Rom. 8:28).
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