When bad things happen, a lot of Christians tell others – and themselves – that these things are part of God’s plan and he has a purpose behind them. This way of explaining life’s trials and tragedies makes it look like everything is by God’s design (or his fault) and that he makes us suffer to teach us lessons – or give us a book to write.
But is everything, little and big, all part of some plan God has for each of us? What about those who suffer a birth defect or are abused? What about children who are sold into slavery? What about terrible car crashes? Some might say God’s plan is only for Christians; those who don’t believe are on their own. But God sends rain on the “just and the unjust.” He lets us make choices about everything. Sometimes our own choices cause us problems; sometimes the choices of others are the cause. But they are our choices, not ones he imposes on us.
God’s plan for our lives is much bigger than the day to day events we experience, although the more we yield and cooperate with the Holy Spirit, the more involved he is with our lives. He wants all of humanity to be with him in eternity, and to paraphrase Star Trek Captain Jean-Luc Picard, he will make it so. Redemption will happen – all will be made right and everyone will be made whole. As N.T. Wright said, “the major, central, framing question [of the New Testament] is that of God’s purpose of rescue and re-creation for the whole world, the entire cosmos.” That’s the plan.