We run our website the way we wished the whole internet worked: we provide high quality original content with no ads. We are funded solely by your direct support. Please consider supporting this project.

300643442_6b4f935d63

When God’s “Plan A” Falls Through, What’s Next?

Image by Katie Tegtmeyer via Flickr

Suzanne was angry, to say the least. Since her early teens, her only aspirations in life were to be a missionary to Taiwan and to marry a godly man with a similar vision, and she prayed daily about these. She went to a Christian college and, quite miraculously, quickly met a young man who shared her vision for Taiwan. Indeed, the commonalities between them as well as all the “coincidences” that had individually led them to just that college at just that time were truly astounding.

For three and a half years they courted one another, prayed together, attended church together, prepared themselves for the mission field, and fell deeply in love with one another. During their senior year, this man proposed to Suzanne; surprisingly she did not immediately say yes to his proposal. Even though so many pieces had miraculously fallen into place, she needed to have an unequivocal confirmation in her heart that this was the man she was to marry.

For several months, Suzanne and her boyfriend fasted and prayed over the matter. They consulted with their parents, their pastor, and their friends. Everyone concluded that this was indeed God’s will. Before too long, God gave Suzanne the confirmation she needed. While in prayer, she was overwhelmed by a supernatural sense of joy and peace wrapped up with a very clear confirmation that this marriage was, in fact, God’s design for her life.

Shortly after college, the newly married couple went away to a missionary school to prepare for their missionary career. Two years into this training, Suzanne learned to her horror that her husband was involved in an adulterous relationship. He repented but within several months returned to the affair. Despite intensive Christian counseling, this pattern repeated itself several times over the next three years.

During these three years, his spiritual convictions altogether disappeared, including his burden for Taiwan. He grew increasingly argumentative, hostile, and even verbally and physically abusive, even fracturing her cheekbone in one of his fits of rage. Soon after, he filed for divorce and moved in with his lover. Two weeks later, Suzanne discovered she was pregnant.

This left Suzanne emotionally destroyed and spiritually bankrupt. All of her dreams had crashed down on her. She felt that her life was basically over. The worst part of it, however, was not the pain her husband had inflicted on her, but how profoundly the ordeal had damaged her relationship with God.

She could not fathom how the Lord could respond to her lifelong prayers by setting her up with a man he knew would do this to her and her child. Some Christian friends had suggested that perhaps she hadn’t heard God correctly. Others told her that this was God’s will all along and that he loves her so much that he led her down this path to humble her.

I suggested to her that God felt as much regret over the confirmation he had given Suzanne as he did about his decision to make Saul king of Israel. Not that it was a bad decision—at the time, her ex-husband was a good man with a godly character. The prospects that he and Suzanne would have a happy marriage and fruitful ministry were, at the time, very good.

Because her ex-husband was a free agent, however, even the best decisions can have sad results. Over time, and through a series of choices, Suzanne’s ex had opened himself up to the enemy’s influence and became involved in an immoral relationship. Initially, all was not lost and God and others tried to restore him, but he chose to resist the prompting of the Spirit, and consequently his heart grew darker. He had become a very different person from the man God had confirmed to her as a good candidate for marriage.

By framing the ordeal within the context of an open future, she was able to understand the tragedy of her life in a new way. She didn’t have to abandon all the confidence in her ability to hear God and didn’t have to accept that somehow God intended this ordeal “for her own good.” Her faith in God’s character and her love for God were eventually restored.

Understandably, Taiwan was no longer on her heart, but the “God of the possible” always has a plan B and a plan C. He’s also wise enough to know how to weave our failed plan A’s into these alternative plans so beautifully that looking back, it may look like B or C was his original plan all along. This isn’t a testimony to his exhaustive definite foreknowledge; it’s a testimony to his unfathomable wisdom.

—Adapted from God of the Possible, page 103-106

Related Reading

How do you respond to John 6:64, 70–71?

Jesus told his disciples, “‘But among you there are some who do not believe.’ For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him” (vs. 64). Jesus continued, “‘Did I not choose you, the twelve? Yet one of you is a devil.’…

Topics:

The Cosmic Dance: Why Will This Book Benefit Me?

Greg took a few moments to describe how he hopes you’ll benefit from The Cosmic Dance. Discover how various branches of science demonstrate that life itself is a delicate dance between order and chaos. You’ll find that we’re wired to live on the edge in a place of creativity, spontaneity and significance in the adventure…

How do you respond to Romans 9?

The Deterministic Interpretation of Romans 9 Many people believe that Romans 9 demonstrates that God has the right and power to save whichever individuals he wants to save and damn whichever individuals he wants to damn. I’ll call this the “deterministic” reading of Romans 9, for it holds that God determines who will be saved…

In light of Einstein’s conclusion that time is relative, how can you believe that God is not above time?

Relatively Theory basically stipulates that whether an event is viewed as being in the past, present or future depends on where one is in relation to the event in question as well as how fast one is moving. Some people conclude from this that Relativity Theory lends support to the classical view of God in…

Free Will: Is it a coherent concept?

Greg is going to be spending the next several blogs talking about the idea of free will. In this first reflection, he discusses whether it is coherent to speak of a decision that is not determined or exhaustively caused.

Who Rules Governments? God or Satan? Part 1

Running throughout Scripture is the motif that depicts God as the ultimate ruler of the nations. On the other hand, the NT teaches that the ruler of nations is Satan. What do we do with these two apparently conflicting motifs? First, because OT authors tended to understand the creation along the lines of a king-centered…