I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone talk about “God’s plan for your life” and use that phrase as if no matter what happens, it’s part of God’s plan. My wife and I just watched a movie recently that was faith-based, and in the story there’s a young lady with a daughter. They lost their husband and father, respectively, in Afghanistan. It tells of the wife’s struggle to make things work afterwards, how she lost her faith in God as life spiraled downward for her. By the end of the movie things lead her back to her faith and as she prepares to enter a church again to worship, she comments about how God’s plan for your life sometimes is not what you want or think it will be, but in the end it works out if you trust in him.
That may sound good at first glance, but it conveys the idea that everything that happened to this lady was part of God’s plan. Did God plan for her husband to die in Afghanistan? Did he plan for her to experience very difficult times emotionally and physically with a job that couldn’t pay the bills? On and on you could go with examples of things that were negative and hurtful, and yet all part of God’s plan if you accept this very predestination point of view. Is that the correct way to view this?
I contend that Satan has a plan for your life! The Apostle Peter tells us in his letter that we need to cast all our anxieties on God, who cares for us, and then says, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.” (I Peter 5:8-9)
There is a spiritual battle for your soul going on constantly. God wants your faith and allegiance, and so does his adversary Satan. Meanwhile we are creatures with free will, able to choose who we give our allegiance to, living in a sinful messed-up world where the consequences of sin touch everyone to some degree. Much that happens in life is the result of the messed-up world we live in. That’s not God’s plan. His plan is to provide salvation without forcing it on anyone. He does so in-the-midst of the craziness of life that can impact us in numerous bad ways. And, throughout this process Satan attempts to tempt us away from God and to himself.
God works for our benefit within this framework of life, but he isn’t causing everything that happens, it is not all part of his plan. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). Bad things happen that are not part of God’s plan, but as Paul says to the Romans, God can use even these things for our good, IF we love him and are called according to his purpose. In other words, we need to have a Christian worldview and be willing to live sacrificially for the good of others, knowing our real reward will come in heaven. We are mistaken if we think Romans 8 tells us that God will make all things work for our happiness in this life. All things work for “good” and that has a very broad other-centered meaning, I believe, not a selfish meaning. God’s purpose is to save and to sanctify in the hotbed of life.
In the Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, a demon writes to his nephew about the spiritual battle with his enemy, which is God. The demon writes, “The enemy wants men to be concerned with what they do (obedience); our business is to keep them thinking about what will happen to them (life circumstances).” Yes, Satan has a plan too, to mess things up! He works all things for bad, if we love him and are called for his purposes. Both want your devotion, your faith, your obedience. So, you need to have a plan! And your plan needs to reinforce your choice. If you choose God, be purposeful in using the resources he provides to become a faithful follower. That involves church, Bible reading, like-minded friends who can encourage and reinforce the path you are on.
People say, “Everything happens for a reason.” Think so? Only if we realize that the “reason” is a battle between God and Satan for your soul. Put on the full armor of God (Eph. 6:11) so you can stand against the schemes of the devil. Realize you have a say in what happens. Make your choice and take your stand for the Lord.