You were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else.

But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life. Ephesians 2:1-10

I really struggle with people who are quick to say that “God has a plan” in the face of everything that happens in life.

On the one hand, it seems to me that such a phrase – dare we call it a cliché? – can be something like a spiritual vitamin. A little booster shot of encouragement that helps us to let go of the stress and anxiety of our lives in the face of the unknowns that face us every day. If we fall back on to this idea that God is always at work in, around, and through us, then we know we aren’t alone and that our lives aren’t meaningless.

But, on the other hand, such thinking skirts the edge of fatalism, of determinism, and that is as spiritually dangerous as driving down the freeway with our eyes closed, trusting that God will supernaturally move all of the other cars out of our way. (Kids, don’t try this at home.)

I once heard a pastor put it another way. He said that to say “God has a plan” is to say that he believes God has an infinite number of contingency plans. What we do matters. What happens to us matters. Our choices, even our blind “I can’t believe I did that! What was I thinking???” kinds of choices, have consequences that change the shape of the universe. Then the contingency planning, the work of redemption, kicks into high gear. That makes more sense to me.

If God has a plan at all it is love. Freely given love. Pure, unadulterated, divine love. Pure gift. Grace. That’s God’s plan.

We call accidents “accidents” because that is what they are. They are something that always had the potential to happen but it takes a whole chain of little disconnected events before they occur. They are accidents. We can plan for them, plan our response to them, but no one plans an accident. They just pick up the pieces and move on.

We call tragedies “tragedies” because that is what they are. There isn’t a fiber of my being, not a molecule in my body, that agrees with the idea that God carefully plans tragedies because there is some higher purpose going on. That is, to me, not only crazy, it is cruel. It is abusing the reality of God by allowing us to twist the darkness and brokenness of our lives into something manageable and understandable when really the only loving response is to hold each other and pray that it gets better.

To do such, to live in grace, sometimes means just holding each other up in prayer, and sometimes holding each other up in person. Those are our good works. The plan is love.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, we trust in the good news that you are reconciling the brokenness of the universe, and the broken places in our lives, through the power of love. We trust that life, and your love for us, is pure gift. May the good works of our lives bear witness to your never-ending love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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6 Responses to “”

  1. Debbie George Says:

    Where is the “Love” instead of “Like” button when you need it! Pastor Kerry, you hit the nail on the head! I too have a hard time when well-meaning people attempt to comfort me with “it’s all a part of God’s plan” when bad things happen to good people—it was not comforting to hear this was God’s plan as I watched my husband struggle with leukemia, or both my parents and a sister die of various cancers at early ages, or when my nephew died fighting a forest fire, or when a friend’s 2 year old succumbed to cancer…we can all insert our own tragedies here. Your statement hit home that “it is not only crazy, it’s cruel” to suggest that God who loves us would do this, and that the “loving response is to hold each other and pray it gets better”. His plan IS love! I thank God daily for His grace and His love that comforts me every day of my life! I also thank Him for you and your words of inspiration–in the pulpit, in this blog, and as you touch lives on a daily basis—He has truly Graced you with the ability to speak His love to others.

  2. Bill Decker Says:

    I agree with Pastor Kerry and Ms. George. On the other hand, one reason some people like to say “it’s all part of God’s plan” is that God is, as that crazy theological idea says, “omniscient” or all knowing. And if God is omniscient and truly loving, why does God allow bad things to happen to good people (or anybody, for that matter)?

    I wrestle with that, and will always wrestle with it. There’s no easy answer, and never will be. This may be the Achilles heel of followers of Jesus. The main thing we followers can do is to point to Jesus, who was obedience even when asked to die for the world.

    Part of the Ephesians passage states that God’s love is just as strong with those of us who are “dead” spiritually and have little or no time for the things of the spirit as it is with those of us who follow him. I don’t understand that either, when it comes right down to it. I understand this as meaning that God loves those who are spiritually dead as intensely as he loves those who have some experience of his love. God seems to be as much a part of their lives as he is with those who worship him, though they can’t see it or recognize it in their lives.

    That’s way beyond my understanding.

    Thank you, Pastor Kerry, for sharing your heart with us.

    • Debbie George Says:

      This is what I love about this blog—it makes us think about our Faith and feelings in an environment where we can voice our concerns and opinions with fellow followers…

      @ Bill Decker—In response to your comment “why does God allow bad things to happen to good people (or anybody, for that matter)?”, does He allow it or single a few of us out to predestine us to misery? I don’t think so. Having a happy life or one filled with despair, choosing to smoke/over indulge or to lead a healthy lifestyle, having good genes or bad genes that lead to health or illness–to me, these things are a part of the human condition and absolutely things we can turn to God and ask for His guidance or even for a miracle. I agree that God is all knowing and truly loving but I also don’t think He is a puppeteer, pulling the strings of our lives making us make good decisions or bad decisions or making us healthy or unhealthy and then see where we stand—that allows us to never be responsible for our own actions and choices and leads to “the Devil made me do it” philosophy that still keeps ownership of the poor choice off our human backs. I DO think God allows us to make our own mistakes and choices (good or bad), to accept Him as our Heavenly Father or to reject Him… but He is ALWAYS there to welcome us back to His loving arms when we are trying to pick up the pieces….and through His grace, forgives us and gifts us with everlasting love and life.

  3. resume help green bay wi Says:

    resume help green bay wi

    Daily Devotions

  4. Carolee Groux Says:

    G – God’s
    R – Redemption
    A – At
    C – Christ’s
    E – Expense

    John 3:16 God so loved the world that He gave His only Son to die for us, that we may have life everlasting.”

    When God sent His Son, Jesus, in human form He was the only perfect being. He showed us how to live, and He saved our sinful selves by his own blood and death on the cross. This selfless act would reunite us with God the Father. God the Son died and rose again, and ascended into heaven that we might have everlasting life. The Holy Spirit intercedes and guides us to repentance and forgiveness of our sins, so that we might lead lives of love that glorify our Lord’s name.

  5. Susan Rode-Laughlin Says:

    Your words are encouraging and reflective. Especially at this time when our family is so torn because of the tragedy of losing Ted. Thank you for your strength & wisdom.

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