That probably sounds simplistic. But it’s true. I know that God has everything under control, so I don’t have to. That doesn’t mean that I drift lazily through life: I still work to earn a living; I still have a savings account and insurance policies; I still try to drive safely, eat right, and get some exercise. It also doesn’t mean that I’m never guilty of worrying more than I should: My trust is no more perfect than the rest of me is. But I know that when I’m surprised by something unpleasant, God isn’t. If He’s allowed it, He has good reason and will use it to further His good plan for me.
How do I know that? First, because He tells me so in the Bible. Second, because I’ve seen it happen. Last but most important, Jesus is the prime example.
First, here is some of what the Bible tells us. It tells us that God is intimately familiar with us from even before we are born (Psalm 139:16, Luke 12:6-7). It tells us that He will provide for us (Matthew 6:25-33). It tells us that He has plans for each of us (Proverbs 16:9, Psalm 33:11). It tells us that those are all good plans, with the goal of bringing us closer to Him (Romans 8:28). It gives examples from Jewish history: Joseph sold into slavery (Genesis chapters 37-45), Daniel in the lions’ den (Daniel chapter 6), the exile of the Israelites to Babylon (much of the Old Testament, but see especially Jeremiah 29:10-14).
Second, I have a couple of memorable examples from my own life. I was raised in a Christian home, and accepted Jesus for myself as a child. But in my twenties, I got lazy about practicing my faith. I slept in on Sundays more often than not. Then my father died suddenly of a heart attack. I remember wondering at the time “Why would God do this to Daddy?”. Then I thought “Duh, Daddy’s in heaven. He’s fine!”. So I switched to wondering “OK, then why would God do this to me?”. My answer was “He loves me, so He hurts whenever I hurt. He wouldn’t allow it without good reason.” I found that I didn’t need to know the reason; I could trust that He did.
Looking back, I can see part of His reason. I couldn’t let my mother have to sit in church alone, especially those first weeks after it happened, so I went to be with her. It so happened (a God “coincidence”) that a new Sunday School class for my age group was just starting, so I didn’t have the embarrassment of being a wayward child returning to my old class. The new class had a wonderful, loving teacher (thanks, Lynn!) who made it a joy to attend. Now, years later, my church family is an important part of my life, and I’m writing this blog.
By the way, another God coincidence happened during that time. The day that Daddy died was a Saturday mid-morning. This was before cell phones, so the only way to communicate quickly was if both parties were in a building with a landline. At that time, it had been months since we’d been home on a Saturday morning; that day, we had helpers coming in to take out a tree in our yard so we were home for once. My brother didn’t have a landline in his apartment; that day he was helping a friend in their business, and we knew that and knew how to reach him. Spreading word through the church should have been difficult; that day, many of the deacons were at the church campus doing some construction work, got the news, and met us at the hospital. Everyone who needed to be contacted was quickly available, without modern technology.
A second example in my life was a work crisis. A betrayal by a manager whom I had considered a friend caused an unfair demotion from a position I’d held with honor for years. That demotion switched me from supervisory work back to technical software development. Because of that, I had opportunity to re-exercise development skills that had gone stale while I was supervising, and to learn new skills. Several years later, that has led me to be in a position to develop this website.
The most emphatic expression of God’s control even in the bad stuff of life is Jesus. His students had followed Him for three years, believing that He was the long-promised Messiah who would rescue the world and make all the problems go away. They saw Him arrested, tried in an illegal kangaroo court, tortured, then executed by one of the more cruel methods that men have come up with. They saw His body buried, sealed in a stone tomb with guards posted. They were terrified that the same enemies were coming for them next. All hope seemed lost.
Then, they found the tomb empty. Jesus met with them, talked to them, ate with them. He taught them that the old prophecies had said this would happen to the Messiah. He made them understand that His suffering was on their behalf, opening the way for them to be reconciled to God (Isaiah 53:5-6). The worst thing that could happen turned out to be the best, for the entire world.
I think that’s enough evidence for me to trust God with my future.