A quick word, first: I do believe God has a plan to heal and redeem all of humanity, restoring his kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. That said, I am disturbed by an understanding of God's sovereignty that attempts to explain away hard and painful things as obstacles or tests on the road to reward. I am hoping to learn what it means to sit and grieve with those who are hurting, not offering flippant answers that minimize the reality of hurting (and usually oversimplify the complexities of life). Like Emily, I don't know exactly how it works for God to be on his throne without micromanaging the world. I might never understand. But, like Jesus, I want to offer my presence in the midst of pain. And, like many stumbling on the path toward true living, I want the peace that comes from knowing God is with me, even in the midst of everything falling apart.
When we only offer the “God has a plan” narrative, the one that says you must simply plod through all the hard things until they are magically revealed to have been good things or that they led you to good things, we are removing ourselves from reality.
My experience with God offers me a deeper centering in reality, not escapism. I don’t remember any stories of Jesus telling people someday their pain would make sense, that in the future they’d get something that would be better than healing in the moment.
Jesus stood with people.He saw, touched, healed, and planted himself very much in their lives by inviting himself to dinner. He didn’t fix every single detail of their disappointments, but he didn’t offer people platitudes that his Father created their sufferings for some personal glory.
He walked around calling evil for what it was, driving it out, and weeping with those who experienced the death of hope.
And that, to me changes everything. I haven’t quite sorted out exactly how God works with us without controlling every detail, but it brings me comfort. It’s so much more powerful that trying to follow a map or hoping that other people are following their maps so that we can get past this mess and just get married. If there’s no map, but there is an incarnate God who will stand with us and for us, we can have peace even when things fall apart. We can simply engage with reality and ask God to meet us, wherever we are.
I don’t need a God with a blueprint plan if I can have a God who is with me.