2 Tim. 4:3-4 “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.”
A dear church lady promised me God would not allow certain devastating circumstances to come to pass in my life. She was wrong. Another friend proclaimed that the Lord showed her in a dream I wasn’t supposed to marry my husband. (We’re getting ready to celebrate our 25th anniversary!) One woman told me, with sweet southern charm accompanied by a Bible verse, that I would receive a call of reconciliation before the year ended. The call never came.
I’ve learned over the years to be kind to these ear ticklers, but not bank on their well meaning predictions. These merciful souls desire nothing more than for every story to end with, “and they lived happily ever after.” Not every person’s dilemma has this resolution. Pain knocks at many of our doors and bears bad news. Yet God sees and knows all of our stories from beginning to end.
The Apostle Paul was imprisoned unjustly. His fellow believers in Philippi must’ve been deluded that God wasn’t paying attention or being fair. Paul explained that his imprisonment wasn’t devastation, but rather, a great way to share the gospel. Many other prisoners were catching onto Paul’s boldness and declaring truth. Even the palace guards were now privy to the news of Jesus Christ. Paul understood they may have never heard if his plight of a prison sentence had been dismissed – all part of a divine plan.
Often we don’t understand the whys. Our souls yearn for the sunny skies, not dark clouds. Our Creator knows both are necessary. Not all stories have happy endings here on earth. We cannot glibly attach Bible verses to outcomes we desire and hand them out like fortune cookies. Maturity teaches us to pray and seek the face of God. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus faced his darkest moments. He looked up to heaven and prayed a difficult but surrendered prayer, “Thy will be done.” Those who didn’t understand were devastated. There were no soothing verses to attach to the outcome in that moment. But God’s plan needed no intervention or explanation. He was, and is, working in ways we will never understand. This friends, is the definition of faith.