Although I followed the tradition of eating black-eyed peas for luck in the coming year, I know black-eyed peas aren’t lucky and the number 13 isn’t unlucky. There is no such thing as “luck”—our lives are in the hands of a loving, almighty, all-powerful, holy God.
So often we are quick to blame God if we experience “bad luck,” setbacks, disappointments, and tragedies. We know that God could have made things happen differently, and we wonder why He didn’t. We are much less apt to give Him glory when things go right. If we are successful, we like to take the credit. If life goes smoothly, we don’t notice but just expect it as our right.
This year I want to be more mindful of the work of God in my life. Yesterday, I briefly went into panic mode when I learned that because of technical problems, the printer could not deliver the book Jack Stories: Favorite Memories of Jack Jordan Ammann Jr. for the booksigning on Saturday. My first reaction was “groaning of the Spirit” prayer, much as in a similar situation when I was preparing my first book for publication.
My prayer wasn’t structured in beautiful language. I just cried out,”Lord, I don’t know what to do. You have to handle this–I can’t.”After several minutes of that, I posted a prayer request on my church’s intercessory prayer page and called a friend, a fellow Christian/author/publisher to ask her for prayer. She asked,”Did you call Patrick?”
I told her I hadn’t because his printing company did offset printing, and it would be too expensive for the small quantity of books I needed. Besides, it took him several weeks to produce a book. However, in desperation, I called Patrick. He said, “We recently got several digital printers, so now we offer digital printing as well as offset. And I think we can fit your project in this week.” He checked with his production department and called me back with the news that the books can be ready Friday afternoon.
Hallelujah! Problem solved—and all I did was pray and ask for prayer from others. Some would call this coincidence, but coincidences are just those times God chooses to remain anonymous. The Bible tells us, “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” (James 5:16, ESV)
Now, if things hadn’t turned the way I wanted, would I have blamed God? No, I would recognize that for whatever reason getting those books printed was not in His plan. I wouldn’t understand the plan, and I would feel disappointed that I had a houseful of people to get books I didn’t have. But I would know that God’s plan is perfect. Just because I don’t understand it doesn’t mean it’s not God’s perfect plan in His perfect timing.
So many of the problems we face as individuals and as a society result from we humans thinking we know more than God. In our narrow, dim vision, we decide what we think should happen. We pray, and if God answers our prayer the way we want, we’re happy. But if He answers “no” or “later,” we may complain or become resentful or question our faith. We forget that we don’t see everything in eternity, as God does. We forget what the Bible says:
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts. ~ Isaiah 55:8-9 (ESV)
We twist His Word. We say, “MY God is loving God. He wouldn’t …” Whether it’s allowing tragedy in this life or sending unrepentant sinners to Hell, the God we create in our own minds would act the way we think He should. How arrogant of us! Who are we to think we know more than the Lord? Who are we to question our Creator?
God asked Job:
Will you even put me in the wrong?
Will you condemn me that you may be in the right?
9 Have you an arm like God,
and can you thunder with a voice like his?
We blame God to make ourselves look right. Yet we can’t do what God can do. We do not know what God knows. God is always right. His plan is always perfect.
God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good. We aren’t meant to understand everything in this life. But St. Paul tells us,
“12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:12
For the coming year, instead of trying to understand things far above my ways and my thoughts, I intend to focus to living my life in glory to God.
DIRECT us, O Lord, in all our doings, with thy most gracious favour, and further us with thy continual help; that in all our works begun, continued, and ended in thee, we may glorify thy holy Name, and finally, by thy mercy, obtain everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.