Perhaps you are in a certain situation today in which you have received some “bad news.” I don’t know what the bad news is, but, for the sake of argument, let us just say that the ‘bad news’ is that you have been handed a notice that you are no longer needed at the company where you work. That makes you feel a little dejected, or pehaps ‘rejected and unwanted’. However, the truth of the matter is that God still loves you, and, as Bill Bright would say, “Has a wonderful plan for your life.” In no uncertain terms, that plan absolutely cannot be frustrated by what man can do. A few verses highlight God’s wonderful plan for his children (though I am not saying there is never any pain or suffering involved, because there sometimes is):
[God speaking] “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end [ie future].” (Jeremiah 29:11)
[Jesus speaking] “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)
God then, has a plan. It is not going to be frustrated by what man can do. In fact, if you but look at God’s plan for Jesus in going to the cross, we can see very clearly that it was not frustrated by what man did. For we read, “For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.” (Acts 4:27-28) So what man did was to ‘fall into’ God’s plan for Jesus — it wasn’t that they frustrated it, but that they fulfilled it (unwittingly, of course, for they did not know that they were fulfilling it). Of course, I have given a very interesting scenario here: that of God’s plan for Jesus, which involved suffering. All of which may show that if we suffer in this life, we should continue to trust God. We should not necessarily think that it is out of God’s will. We should instead trust him, like Jesus did. Who knows but that something very wonderful will come out of it in the end. We need to see the same way that Jesus did. And we need to trust like Jesus did, too.
Having said this, how should we respond when we feel mistreated or rejected, or let down, on account of some bad news? Well, first of all, from the example of Jesus himself, I think we can learn that even though things appear to ‘go bad’ sometimes, or ‘take a turn for the worse,’ yet we can be assured that God is definitely in control of the situation. God has ‘oversight’ over the situation; he is ‘overseeing’ it. He may not always ‘resolve it’ to our immediate satisfaction — that is, right away — but that does not mean he will not work it out for the better in the end. Quoting from Romans 8:28-29: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” So we see from the Romans passage that one of the ‘end results’ of allowing these thigns to happen is that they mold us more into the image of Jesus Christ.
I have a question for you. Suppose we encounter adversity, and we respond by saying, “God I don’t trust you. I give up.” Do you think that according to this passage, that God will remove the adversity? According to this passage, it is my own impression that God will not be so inclined to remove the adversity, or further adversities like it, if we respond like this. But, what if on the other hand, we say, “Oh, God, I am a little disappointed, I have to admit. But I will still trust and praise you and worship you, in the midst of it. Praise your name! Be glorified and let me have the grace to walk it through”. Then I think God will be much more pleased. Who knows? God might even remove the affliction we are facing. But don’t be deceived. We weren’t born to be free from affliction in this life. Jesus said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation.” (John 16:33a).
To live in wanton pleasure and luxury, and not experience problems, is not a sign of godliness. It is rather more a sign that God is not with you, for according to Psalm 73, it is not the righteous who have no difficulties or struggles; it is the unrighteous (Psalm 73:4-5). Again, the whole story of ‘Lazarus and the rich man’ seems to bring this out. Lazarus was the man who had affliction, and used to eat the scraps from the rich man’s table. The rich man went to hell, and Lazarus went to heaven. Does this mean that all rich men will go to hell, or that we should strive to be poor? No, absolutely not. King David was rich, and he went to heaven. Abraham was very rich, and he too went to heaven. But riches tend to ‘weigh a man down’ with unnecessary (worldly) burdens. Jesus said, “It is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:23) Riches, then, are not bad. But they tend to weigh us down with unnatural desires that tend to sidetrack us from our real mission in life: to serve Christ with our whole heart. One more passage which brings this out, of course, is Matthew 6:24: “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” That passage simply indicates to us that there is a basic struggle going on for so many, between these two things.
Today, you may be facing adversity. Don’t knock it. For who knows that this is but a blessing in disguise from God, to help keep you humble and dependent on him? You don’t want to be like the rich man that forgot God, do you? So don’t worry when adversity seems to come your way. Remember, in Psalm 73, it wasn’t the righteous man that was trouble free, it was the unrighteous one. I’d like to highlight that for you by quoting verse 5 of that Psalm: “They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men.” Yes, it does often appear to be the way. But what does the very next verse say? “Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment.” These people who live on “easy street” are not righteous; it is as simple as that. No one who ever lived on “easy street” could attain to righteousness. How could they? The Scriptures declare that even Christ himself “learned … obedience by the things which he suffered” (Hebrews 5:8b). So then, if Christ had to suffer in order to learn obedience, who are we not to suffer? For Christ himself said that “The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.” (Matthew 10:24)
So you don’t need to worry about adversity. What you do need to worry about is how you respond to adversity. How then should we respond? With humility, and continued dependence upon God. That is how. Remember, he is your father, and you are his child. If you really believe that, it is time to go to him in quiet submission, in prayer, and express that dependence that you have upon him. Tell him your needs. Do not be afraid to express your emotions before him. But make sure the element of true faith is always there: faith that says, “Father, I believe in you. You will make all things well in the end. For you do not make mistakes. You are perfect. And right now, you are perfectly in control.” With an attitude like that, I can’t help but believe that God will bless you, and take care of you, for as long as you live.