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God’s Intentions

Today’s Reflection

WE OFTEN THINK of God’s will as a narrow path down which we must dutifully tread. And if we choose a wrong fork in the road, we consign ourselves irreparably to the hazards of a life other than the one that God intended for us. In this way of understanding God’s will, we easily elevate any troubles or difficulties we encounter in life — not to mention experiences like war, natural disaster, or injurious accidents — and attribute them to some false move we made or to a seemingly unforgivable sin we committed that took us off God’s intended but hidden path. One wrong choice away from God’s will, we can thus believe, is the source of our troubles.

The result, from this point of view, is often that we scour our past to figure out exactly where and in what way we went wrong. Confusion and even spiritual harm then prevail when we attribute one aspect of God’s will to all situations in our lives. This viewpoint means we generally think God’s will is chiefly and naturally God’s intention. But we also believe God loves us. So how can God both love us and intend for bad things to happen to us, especially when we have tried to be good people and to follow God’s will? I heard this confusion in the voice of a widow at her husband’s funeral who explained to me that she must accept the fact that he had been “taken” from her, clearly implying that God did the taking through death. Even though these words came out of her mouth, her face and spirit cried out, “If God loves me, why would God take my husband away from me?” I saw the same confusion in a friend and devoted church member who, when his daughter committed suicide, seemed to gain strange comfort by telling visitors attending the funeral, “God must have needed another soprano in the heavenly choir.”

What kind of God would take away a parent’s beloved and talented daughter by causing a teenager to take her own life simply to fill in the four-part harmony of a choir singing God’s prasies? This would not be a God worthy of worship, and these examples show false perceptions of God’s intentional will.

– John R. Wimmer
Blessed Endurance

From pages 51-52 of Blessed Endurance: Moving Beyond Despair to Hope by John R. Wimmer. Copyrigth © 2017 by John R. Wimmer. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

What are other ways that our assumptions about God’s intentions can be harmful? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

So also Christ did not glorify himself in becoming a high priest, but was appointed by the one who said to him, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you.”

Hebrews 5:5, NRSV

This Week: Pray for persons who experience chronic pain. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

Did You Know?

In need of prayer? The Upper Room Living Prayer Center is a 7-day-a-week intercessory prayer ministry staffed by trained volunteers. Call 1-800-251-2468 or visit The Living Prayer Center website.

This week we remember: Patrick of Ireland (March 17).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2018 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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{ 12 comments… add one }

  • Andrea March 17, 2018, 7:40 am

    God is love. I do not believe in a retributive God. If human suffering is God’s retribution, God would not be love.

    I believe suffering is part of the human condition. A loving God is sorrowed to see human suffering. I believe a loving God hears our prayers and gives us strength. Suffering is mysterious; the life stories of saints demonstrate they become closer to God through suffering. Victor Frankl, a Jew imprisoned in a concentration camp during World War II, found meaning by having a purpose – to help others.

    Jesus calls us to help those who are suffering.

    Prayers for those who suffer with chronic pain – Marcy, Julie, Anneliese, and all who visit UR, and prayers for all UR friends. Wishing all a blessed weekend.

  • Julie March 17, 2018, 7:53 am

    God, as Jesus, is love. But there is much about a God that doles out punishment in the Old Testament. I also went to a church as a child where the sermons were full of”fire and brimstone.” So thoughts such as those in the reflection are not hard to understand from this perspective.
    Blessings and prayers for and many thanks to all of the UR family
    Good actions are the invisible hinges on the doors of heaven.
    Victor Hugo

  • robert moeller March 17, 2018, 11:40 am

    Thankful for Andrea’s post. It helped me some to understand why we, humans. suffer. I have long believed that God loves us and wants good for us, but could not respond to questions about why, if God loves us, that we have so many problems.

    My question is, if we are created in God’s image, why do we make the mistakes we clearly make?

    Thankful that Anneliese has help from the meds she is taking for her heart, that she will meet with the ablation doctor soon, my bank account is recovering from the hack, bills are paid, and there’s propane in the tank.
    Erich is baking a sweet potato pie, Pearl is crawling under blankets, and some trains ran this morning on the layout.

    Prayers for all suffering from chronic pain, dealing with tough problems and challenges, trying to make good decisions, experiencing grief, but also for those thankful for the blessings they have. With You, Lord, we make our way through life. Thank You, Lord.

    Have a blessed weekend. Lent is nearly over.

    • Mary Ng Shwu Ling March 17, 2018, 11:34 pm

      Glad to hear that Anneliese is responding to the medication and Erich is baking sweet potato pie. You never know, sometimes a passion for baking can be what Erich really want to be, perhaps a baker.

      Blessings to everyone and enjoy your Sunday!

      • robert moeller March 18, 2018, 2:47 am

        Thanks Mary! I think Erich has thought about baking. Everything he has baked so far has come out well. He has some training in cooking. I enjoyed the sweet potato pie.

        Thankful that the meds Anneliese takes for heart palpitations are helping. She’ll see the ablation doctor soon.

        I’m delighted with your new teaching position and hope that it works out well for you. Prayers for success there and finding new tenants.

        • Mary Ng Shwu Ling March 18, 2018, 6:00 am

          Thanks so much Robert

          Today, i went to visit a neighbour who has fallen and just came back from the hospital. Glad that she is coping well at home

          Glad that Erich enjoys baking. Hope one day he can have his own bakery.

          Praying that Anneliese has a speedy recovery

          Have a wonderful week ahead, Robert!

          • robert moeller March 19, 2018, 12:14 am

            Glad your neighbor is home after the fall and visit to the hospital. Wonderful to have a visit by you.

            Hopeful for your new job and parents’ well being.

            Erich will visit a possible job site today, baking is a possibility there. Hope he finds his way, it has been a long twisting up and and down journey for him.

          • Mary Ng Shwu Ling March 20, 2018, 12:27 am

            Robert, i am keeping Erich and you in prayer daily.

            Hope Erich gets the job he wants and may he enjoy it so much that it is like a hobby or dream job!

            Best wishes for Erich’s future and also may God bless him with the job of salvation!

          • Mary Ng Shwu Ling March 20, 2018, 12:28 am

            I meant the joy of salvation

  • Marcy March 17, 2018, 6:00 pm

    Hello UR family and friends, I pray all are doing well today. I had this very conversation with my Pastor when she visited with me Sunday before last. I’m afraid I was at a low point, as I’d never considered my worsening problems as God’s punishment. After some very logical and soul searching reasoning, backed by Scripture, this was put to rest. I am thankful for the pastoral care that goes above and beyond from our Pastor. God has blessed me in both Pastors caring, prayers and Scriptural lessons.

    Susan Reid, I am keeping your friend, Megan T. in prayer for healing after ten years of undiagnosed illnesses. After being diagnosed, I pray God will bring her through this long hospitalization. Praying for her medical coverage and praising and praying her family’s strong support.

    Andrea, I am praying for your friend, Jane, as her cancer has metastasized and that God, the Great Physician, will touch her and bring healing to her. I will also keep you and Jane’s family in my prayers.

    I pray for relief from pain for April’s co-worker and Connie’s neighbor.

    Praying travel mercies for Jill as she enjoys time and fun at the NCAA tournament with her good friend who has supported her through her parents’ illnesses. Praying travel mercies also for Betsy as she runs errands for her brother.

    I’m keeping Robert, Erich, Annaliese and little Pearl in my prayers, including Robert’s church members.

    I am thankful and grateful for the prayers from Andrea, Lou, Robert, and all who keep me in their prayers here in the UR family. You all know how much I feel God’s strength through your prayers. I’m praying for Mary, Robert, Julie, Lou, Jill, April, Connie, Betsy and Grace, Andrea and Lowell, Francesca, Carol and Robin, and all the many other brothers and sisters who come to this place, reading or posting, to the UR family, for love without fear of rejection or judgment. God loves and provides for us all, in good times and bad. The God of Faith, Hope and Love, sustains us through the Holy Spirit, made possible by our Savior, Jesus Christ. If these three are in you, so is our Triune God!

    • robert moeller March 18, 2018, 3:12 am

      Thankful for the pastoral visits and their help with your questions. I know from experience that God helps me through the problems, challenges I face.
      Not at all sure how I would have made it all these years without God’s help.
      I think I still struggle with the why of human suffering. It certainly is a reality in this world, this life. God can and does help me through it. Thank You, Lord.

      Church today, that’s a blessing.

      Prayers for you Marcy, God cares for you and works through you. Your prayers, comments, and posts are very welcome and helpful.

      Trains are running on the Landecker, three steam locomotives and several trains. Landeskunde (regional studies) is very much a part of this layout. The rural geography, a hill with a ruined castle, the country side, small end of the line station, and quarry all mirror an 1885-1912 period when Hessen was ruled by Prussia.

      On the American side of the pond two simple Boston & Maine – Canadian National box car kits are done, the Saint Johnsbury and Lake Champlain combine is still in the works, and a Canadian National café car kit is on the way. The café car was a signature car on the Ambassador, a Montreal-Boston, Canadian National-Central Vermont-Boston &Maine passenger train between 1947 and 1957.

  • Mary Ng Shwu Ling March 17, 2018, 11:26 pm

    Thank you dear Marcy for your prayers

    May all your needs be met and may all be well with you

    Blessings to all

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