Yesterday we toured Tuscany and enjoyed its beauty. However, heavy traffic, narrow roads, and fearless drivers began annoying us. Also, nearly everything is closed Mondays so discovering restaurants for lunch and dinner took a long time. By the time we got back to our small and not very comfortable flat, we were both grouchy.
This morning at 8:45, my hubby went down to pay for parking, which is free all night to 8:00 am, and found a ticket on the car. As we ate breakfast, I noted a few brochures for travelers on a bookshelf. One of them said that the residents of this city are noted for complaining. At that, we wondered if their attitude is contagious!
Both of us are using Fortner’s devotional guide where we read:
“Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Hebrews 13:20-21)
I was caught by the phrase: “equip you with everything good that you may do his will” but the rest of Fortner’s thoughts did not speak to my heart. Instead, the online Bible I’m reading did. It had a link to an article called, “How to Know with Certainty the Plans God Has for You.”
This article reminded me of the prophet Jeremiah whose world seemed to be falling apart. All looked hopeless but God gave a promise that immediately brightened his spirits -- and mine:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
Of course I want to know His plans. Because He is sovereign, our present situation is part of them. Not only that, He promises to use all things for my good — to transform me into the likeness of His Son. My confidence in that is always restored by reading His Word and in prayer.
The author of the article points to the context of Jeremiah 29, a warning to pay no heed to false voices. Were we hearing the whining that happens in this city? Since hardly anyone speaks English, I cannot say for sure, but I do know that complaining is NOT the will of God. I need to shut out, shut off, turn away all negativity that enters my mind and instead be thankful. We have many good things going for us!
Jeremiah heard that God’s plans were for the future. This indicates the need for forward thinking. Dwelling on the past never gives a lasting sense of hope. The author said, “When you face challenges, you’ll want to quit or change directions. But if you’ve been spending time listening to God, challenges don’t necessarily mean that you need to throw in the towel. In fact, it could very well be the challenges themselves that prepare you for God’s purpose in your life.”
He is right. Like Paul who sang in jail, we can be a witness for Christ in a place of grumbling. Will anyone ask why we are so cheerful? Maybe not, but God certainly deserves our praises. We can do this for Him, and for each other. We can also look for opportunities to shine the light of Christ and ask Him to keep transforming us through our situation because He said, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)
God fulfilled all the promises He’d made to His people from Genesis 3:15 to the exile into Babylon (and their later return). He told them of a Savior, a promised One, a Messiah. He came, died for our sin, and rose again to give us new life. All of that happened. His plans for me will happen too. One day, I will be like Jesus.
My dear Lord and Savior, all of Your plans for me center on You and what You did at the Cross. You are at the heart of those plans to prosper me. This isn’t about the stuff that happens, but what I do about it when it happens. You want me to respond as You would; that is Your plan for me. No matter what, I can be Your ambassador in this place, even if others grumble. Reset my heart to cooperate with You — that Your grace will bless those around me.