I was chatting to a congregation member over the phone yesterday and she mentioned that for her birthday in May her family had planned to come visit from all over the world. What with all that is going on with the Covid-19 pandemic they had decided to postpone the arrangement to her birthday next year. She then said something along the lines of when we made the plans we should have said “God willing…” referencing James’ words in chapter 4 his letter to the believers. I felt it was a very apt observation.
This is the passage from James 4:13-16
13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will travel to such and such a city and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.” 14 Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring — what your life will be! For you are like vapour that appears for a little while, then vanishes.
15 Instead, you should say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16 But as it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.
No one could have predicted the global disruption to all of our lives that the coronavirus outbreak brought this year. As things progressed event after event got cancelled. Gatherings were called off. Plans were disrupted. Even the things that we’ve always come to see as constant, things so concrete that we’d never have dreamed of them not happening, would not happen. This global pandemic is a reminder that we do not know what tomorrow will bring or what our life will be.
Now this is not to say that we shouldn’t make plans. After all Proverbs 21:5 says, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance and advantage, but everyone who acts in haste comes surely to poverty,” (AMP). It is good to plan, but in our planning we shouldn’t become presumptuous. We shouldn’t give in to the temptation that having a plan means we have life all figured out. The truth is we don’t, there is only one plan that will always come to fruition: “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails,” (Proverbs 19:21 NIV).
This is why James advises us to remember, in all our planning, to acknowledge, “if the Lord wills , we will live and do this or that.” Our lives are in His hands, in fact, all life is in His hands. We are but just a vapour, He is eternal, and it is His plan that will prevail.
The wonderful thing about this, for us as believers, is we know that God is good and His plan for our lives, and for all creation, is ultimately good. So even when our plans get disrupted, when nothing seems to go to plan, it’s okay because we are still in the will of God.