Jesus does NOT have a wonderful plan for your life.

In this past year, a slew of my friends have abandoned their faith in God altogether and come out as atheists.

I’ve seen the pattern over and over again so many times that I’m thinking I could knit a sweater of atheism if only I had enough yarn.

It usually starts with a personal crisis of some sort or another.

The death of a child. The loss of a home. Financial disaster. The disappointment that comes from a marriage gone bad. A prodigal child. It could be anything big or seemingly small.

Whatever the initial spark, the course of events that follows seems fairly consistent from person to person.

First up:  The Arrival of Job’s Friends.

Because the American Church is so enamored with this stupid theology about Jesus having a wonderful plan for our lives, many Christians do not know how to cope when misfortune strikes their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

For Americans, Jesus having a wonderful plan for our lives means health, wealth and prosperity. For us Americans, that is. Us extra-blessed Americans who Jesus loves best, of course.

Whether we personally belong to a church that openly espouses Prosperity Theology or not, this terrible heresy has infected American Christianity like a plague that just will not go away.

Worse, far worse, it is driving people to atheism in droves.

Here is how it works; here is how this theology creates an army of Job’s Friends.

If I’m invested in believing that Jesus has a wonderful plan for my life, and that the level of my stridency in my faith in Him is what is keeping the Boogeyman away, what conclusions can I draw when the Boogeyman visits you?

Obviously there is something wrong with you and your faith.

Because we know that Jesus has a wonderful plan for our lives, if bad things are happening to you, well then, it must be your own damn fault.

This sort of belief in Jesus–that belief in Him is what is both keeping bad things from happening and causing good to rain down on us–is really nothing more or less than idolatry.

WHAT?!?!

Am I saying that  belief in Jesus could be an idol?

Is that even possible?

Yeah. It is.

It is no different than any other sort of magical thinking. This thinking reduces Jesus to nothing more than a rabbit’s foot.

A belief in Jesus is not a talisman against misfortune and disaster. This magical thinking is, in fact, the exact opposite of what Jesus said about following him.

Jesus never said, “I’ve got a wonderful plan for you life.”

He said that, before choosing to follow him, a person should, “Count the cost.”

When disaster befalls our brother or sister in Christ*, this creates anxiety in us. And out of our own anxiety, we become shitheads to our suffering friends.

Because we need to believe that we have the talisman against evil, i.e., our belief in Jesus, we decide that their calamity must indicate some spiritual weakness or sin in them.

We need to believe that the bad that happened to them can’t happen to us because our faith is strong, right? We’ve ferreted out the sin from our lives, unlike them, right?

And even if we don’t openly say these things, or even realize that we think this way, we communicate this loud and clear.

That’s why, without fail, the very next mile-marker on the road to atheism, after the precipitating disaster, is  the arrival of Job’s Friends. And those friends are us.

*Don’t even get me started on how we treat non-believers when disaster strikes them. 

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  1. Can I just say I feel this argument is faulty at two levels.
    Firstly, can I say you are correct in that Jesus never used the phrase “God has a wonderful plan for your live.” Also true is the statement about “counting the cost”, or even “Take up your cross” (a torturous mechanism of execution). WE are called to die to self, and we are told in this world we will have opposition.
    However – there are balancing statements such as “Come unto me you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest” and most importantly “I have come that you may have life and have it in abundance”.
    How can BOTH these be true? Lets us examine what I believe is the root problem – what do we mean by “wonderful life”? If you mean – as asserted above – health, wealth and prosperity than I will agree with you wholeheartedly. These is CLEARLY no such promises.
    However, for me the wonderful part is about things that are much deeper. I am given the Holy Spirit as a comforter and guide (Note – You don’t need a comforter if you never have any problems or issues ). I have my sins forgiven – and more than that have the righteousness of Christ applied to myself. My Saviour has promised He will never leave me or forsake me. I have been promised a new life welling up within me. I could go on for ages.
    I think the promises of Jesus and the life I have with and through Him ARE wonderful – at least they fill ME with wonder.
    Let me close that ANYONE who today after reading the bible, suggests to another in times of great trial that the cause is their sin or lack of faith is either being deliberately obtuse or has never understood what is written there. Jobs friend were at least smart enough to sit and grieve with him with their mouth shut for an extended period of time – perhaps we should do the same. When one part of the body hurts – it all suffers.

  2. The churches have not taught us two things:
    1. How much God loves us (both saints and sinners)
    2. How much the devil hates us (both saints and sinners)
    When one learns how to believe in this amazing Love only found in and through Jesus Christ, and stop calling Good (God) evil, and evil (the devil) good, the confusion and fear will go. Understanding, faith, and love will stay.
    3. When you know that God loves you, you will also know that He loves the other fellow with the same Love–Himself.

  3. ok, how I got to your blog is how I get to most places which half hold my interest. I get into these “Why?”‘s moments and usually if I enter into discussion with anyone about my Why’s and God, I walk away with the last word. Having just read the above article about “Jesus not having a plan”, picked my curiosity enough to read some about you and lets just say I like your style.Having said that, you might be the one who finally shuts me up. I am no scholar, or religious expert or nothing, I’m just your 48 year old perimenopausal woman lost in a world of her own confussion and not looking anywhere as good as you look in your picture above.WAY TO DO OVER 40! Now to the unanswerable question for most idiots anyway (including me). I’ve heard it say many, many times that “We are created at the image and likedness of God”, IF! that statement is true, please help me unravel the following:
    I, a regular Joe schmoe, created at the image and likeness of the power that runs the universe.ok. Have not proof that God exists or that God does not exist.NONE!. I haven’t had either conscious contact with him, or personal experience, can’t understand his ways if he does exist, BUT! I was created at his image and likeness, so I’m told, but I am also told that with my human brain I can’t possibly start to understand the grandiose works of this supreme being. So he created me at his likeness except he left out the capacity for me to understand his ways.ok. Now onto purpose, the mystics and the religious and the spirituals seek and search and awaken and enlighten themselves after a whole lot of fucking suffering and a TON! of prayers…whose idea was this? A loving father created me, so that I can spend the rest of my human life trying to find him, usually through pain(that’s when most people’s knees hit the floor, lets keep it real). So, that’s the plan? really? lets come from him and spend the whole time here looking for him?, which by the way I’m told I don’t find him because “he is already INSIDE!” “and the reason I can’t make contact is because…are you ready? FREE WILL! The answer to everything when some people run out of reasons why. So, was God bored, perhaps and said : ah! fuck it, I need some entertainment here, so let me create a bunch of losers, put them all together in a tiny globe and let me watch them go at each other, and because of FREE WILL, I will not! interfere, unless they blindly and stupidly believe in me WITHOUT QUESTIONING MY POWER! That sounds to me like a big fucking Egotistical, macho thing to say. So the question is what is the point of the whole thing? to come from him, created by him and die looking for him…to what end? for his entertainment purposes?
    Somebody help me here, I seem to not have gotten God’s IQ genes when he created me in his image and likeness.
    PS: and you are right Chloe, blogging if not better , it sure is cheaper than therapy.
    Whatever you throw my way, I appreciate and thank you in advance
    T.

    • T, your comment has been on my mind for days. I have no answers to your questions. They are questions I have, too. Why is it my fault, and the rest of humanity’s, that we’re screwed up? Isn’t that really God’s fault? And why am I created in His Image except for I don’t have any of the useful parts that would help me make sense of the world? What sort of image is that anyway?

      Great questions. I have no answers. But I must believe that God is Love. And from that place I must believe that somehow it’ll all work out in the end. That’s no answer, but all I can do is try to do my best and be a good person. I know that matters.

      hugs, c

      • Hi Chloe,

        How are you? I hope you’re well.

        I read the two previous comments (one from T and the other from you) and I thank God for bringing me to your page.

        After reading T’s comment, I was a bit apprehensive to scroll down and read your reply because I assumed it would have all these answers drawing from the bible and theological frameworks and doctrines. But it didn’t. Right now, with where I am, your response reflected faith to me more than the former. What I heard in your response was this woman who has questions and confusions about this God who she is desiring to love and worship. Yet in the midst of that storm you still declare your faith. That’s what I heard. And for me your real life wrestle with those questions is a testimony of your worship of God and that lifted a weight off my heart because I’m that woman with questions…some of the same ones. Therefore to see faith even where this doubt…well that comforted me and reminded me that I’m still a Christian (because often I’ll feel I’m not measuring up, or I’m. Ot Christian enough. Excuse my faith is not where I wish it was).

        With gratitude and just so much thanks!
        Ashley

        • To clarify my last sentence (because often I’ll feel I’m not measuring up, or I’m not Christian enough, or because my faith is not where I want it to be God cannot possibly love me and take care of me).

          • Ashley, what a beautiful comment. I think those pat answers begin to fail some of us. I’ve heard them all too. And once the chinks in this wall appear, those pat answers, rather than rebuild our faith, turn on us and cut whatever faith we have left to bits. I’ve seen it happen to others.

            Everyone with a thinking brain should have doubts. How could you not? But I think faith is a decision we make despite our doubts. At least it’s s decision I make on a continual basis. I choose to believe that there is a God and, despite good evidence to the contrary, that this God loves us. And the way I can love God back is to be a good person and care about and for other people. That’s all I got.

            Thank you for reading and taking the time to write. It meant a lot to me.
            Chloe Jeffreys recently posted..Is Blogging Healthy?My Profile

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  5. Wow. You are right on! you said “The death of a child. The loss of a home. Financial disaster. The disappointment that comes from a marriage gone bad. A prodigal child. It could be anything big or seemingly small. ” I experienced all of the above. How coincidental is that? And I heard from Christians,” God is really going to use you now buddy.” as if that was always the goal.

    I was a Christian for 40 years, in ministry for half of that time, and my faith failed me when I experienced all of the above. But, a close examination (I think) revealed to me that I had faith in the church’s form of god – so yes, it was an idol. I just believed what I was told to believe and bought into the culture big time because that is where I found a sense of relevance and belonging. Here are some of the things I was led to believe:
    1. God doesn’t really want or allow questioning. Faith doesn’t ask questions. (sounds like a con to me)
    2. God loves you very much, but will torture you for eternity if you don’t love him back.
    3. The almighty god created mankind and then threw the dice on who would be saved – but if you die as a child you automatically go to heaven. (better to die as a child then to take the chance that your sins will send you to hell)
    4. God answers prayer – well some of them – like 1 out of 1000, maybe, if you are lucky and have a lot of faith. ( I used to pray for 1 hour a day for an entire year. I prayed for protection for my children and for the “blessing of the Lord” but nothing happened – my child died, the other turned to drugs. I got depressed and lost my businesses and then my house because I got into financial problems. Then my wife walked out. Thank you Jesus – feeling really good down here – glad I made you the Lord of my life. How much more of this do I have to take?
    5. God wants to have a personal relationship with you. Oh yeah, then where the hell are you big guy. I am sitting her talking to you but don’t hear anything back. Some relationship!

    As a result, I am learning to just live with the loss and disappointment – I am not blaming a god who isn’t there anymore – but searching for a god who might be there that I don’t recognize yet.

    • NO GOD DOES NOT COME THROUGH FOR YOU! I AM A FAITHFUL HUSBAND AND HAVE BEEN MARRIED THREE TIME! MY FIRST WIFE LEFT ME FOR ANOTHER MAN AND PUT ME THROUGH HELL CONSTANTLY CHEATING ON ME UNTIL I GOT TIRED OF IT AND MY SECOND WIFE TREATED ME LIKE SHIT AND RIGHT WHEN I WAS GOING TO LEAVE HER SHE GOT CANCER AND I STAYED BY HER SIDE AND TOOK CARE OF HER UNTIL SHE DIED. I HAVE NOW FOUND OUT MY THIRD WIFE HAS BEEN E-MAILING A GUY FOR TWO MONTHS THAT IS TWENTY YEARS YOUNGER AND PROMISED HER THE WORLD UNTIL HE TURNED OUT TO BE A SCAMMER AND TOOK HER FOR 64 THOUSAND DOLLARS AND SHE WAS MAD AT ME FOR TRYING TO STOP IT. I GET YELLED AT FOR TRYING TO HELP HER AND SHE SAID HE IS A NICE GUY! EVEN THE COP COULD NOT UNDERSTAND THAT! I JUST GOT A LETTER FOR HER BECAUSE SHE IS OUT VISITING FRIENDS HAVING FUN AND I AM HOME TAKING CARE OF OUR FOUR DOGS TELLING HER SHE IS GETTING A ONE HUNDRED AND SEVEN THOUSAND DOLLAR MEDICAL SETTLEMENT. GOD SURE CAME THROUGH FOR HER! YES GOD DOES NOT HAVE A WONDERFUL PLAN FOR ME! EXCUSE ME I NOW HAVE TO TAKE CARE OF MY DYING FATHER NOT TO MENTION WHILE MY WIFE WAS DOING ALL THIS I WAS IN THE HOSPITAL WITH MY BACK SCREWED UP!

      • I am sorry for the big negative rambling on that I wrote but It is funny when you are angry how if you do not channel that anger right you end up letting it out in a negative way! We all make our ways in life by how we take things and do things and we should all never let another human being affect us in a negative way!

    • well I have read yr comment and GOd does have a plan for u he is real than what created the earth it was not evolution ok I love god he is awesome its not gods fallet it is yrs ok he goes everything to help u its yr sin so u should as for forgiveness and ask him in yr heart

  6. Interesting point. Jesus did say He came to bring us abundant life, and according to the Psalms, our days were planned out for us before we were born. You’re absolutely right though that people go overboard with these ideas and interpret them to mean that their lives are supposed to always be fulfilling and carefree. I think, for many people, God really does have a wonderful plan though! My father, born dirt poor, failed in the restaurant business but went on to e a successful lawyer without ever even going to college ! You may say that wa all because of his ingenuity and hard work…and I couldn’t prove otherwise if push came to shove, I suppose. But his legal mind and his° desire to help people  came from somewhere, right? Just a thought.

  7. Chloe

    Please define Joy
    Joy is not happiness, Joy is assurance that God will help you overcome. Happiness on the other hand comes from happenings, you are happy when you win. Therefore, Jesus brings joy, he is not a talisman to ward off bad things, The Devil attacks those who choose to follow Jesus, he wants them to give up on Jesus and follow him in ignorance. Ignorance is death to its holder.

  8. Jesus came to die for our sins and make our spirits alive when we accept him, Suffering is meant to inspire you lean on God for wisdom and grace. Jesus said we would get persecuted for his sake. And if you cant believe Jesus to increase you financially, at least believe he will save you from the hell fires and torments. I beg you to Reconsider the latter. God Bless You.

  9. * I meant to grow much more closer to Father in Heaven. I already am close to him. I hope I can grow more in my faith with him.

    • I have strong faith in God and have always been religious! My wife on the other hand is not very religious and maybe God is telling me to move on! It has to be true considering what is going on with my wife and I! She has become very cold callous and deceitful! We have been together over 23 years and when they say some women are evil they must have meant my wife!

  10. Now more than ever I find it extremely hard to grow closer to our Father in Heaven as one thing right after another has come and dumped its fecal matter all over us. Us is my husband and I. We both have many health issues and can not make ends meet. It just seems like when something good finally comes along, “BOOM!”, we wind up going backwards again. Perhaps it is a sign that the End of Days are near. I do not know how one can even survive in this ghastly mess of a world. I keep trying to remind myself that is Satan causing this big heap of wrong doings, through evil and manipulated puppets who are those usually in power, who only look out for number one, and only number one. I would be a fool, too if I said to myself that any revelations I had in the past and present were nothing more than poppycock; making me a crazy lady who should be locked up after what I have experienced, such beautiful things that bring peace and promise to the living. Yet like a frightened and helpless child, I find myself weeping and crying out for answers, answers I may never get; for instance: why does God throw us in one direction when nothing good comes of it? I had a notion to go all the way to Los Angeles for a job interview; that led to nothing. Maybe it was to show us that there are other opportunities abroad elsewhere and not in this sad little town we live. Least that was what my heart said; when I looked into it. If someone who is so spiritual as we has these little to major bumps in the road and wonders why, but yet still has the will to live and to live by the word of God; then I truly do wonder what goes on in the mind of non-believers. They must be surely lost and in a very dark place. To have no general idea about it getting better, when we move closer to paradise. They think that this is it, that you die and your body is put into a nice box and you are living with the worms, six feet under. The only thing I say is, really now? I cannot do any better than what I have done for myself, will I ever have anything to show of it? I am nearly 34 for goodness sake! It is the evil that stinks up this world that is solely to blame, and this is so important for us to remember as Catholics, Christians, and Jews: we cannot blame the maker, only the weasel who hides in the shadows and mocks us. The thing is whatever burdens we have now, will be no more in the next life. Jesus suffered plenty, more than we will ever know, (we should always remember this, whenever we play the “woe is me” card) We will not live his fate, however suffer we must in order to be one with him and the Father, and to know that we are not alone in this struggle, not ever. Amen…

  11. Chloe please help me! Because you are a woman maybe you can give me an idea what is going on with my wife. You can be brutally honest even if you think it is another man involved. The situation is she is going out everyday and sometimes on weekends but only for an hour or two on weekends but 4 hours on week days. She tells me it is a financial thing that she has got caught up in and wished she never did. I checked the cell phone records to see what calls are made but I cannot see the texting. The phone calls are all from her sister or girl friends and other calls have been made to financial institutions. She has made big withdrawls on her credit card and is hiding her credit union account statement from me. When I found out about her credit card with drawls I confronted her and she told me not to worry it is not a scam and even an attorney is involved and everything is documented. When I asked her if there is another man she has reassured me there is no one else and would never commit adultery. She even had a mutual married and trustworthy friend a woman call me to tell me she is not cheating on me. Please if you have any ideas on what might be going on please reply to me. I would not wish this on my worst enemy!

    • Wow. I have no idea. She could be dealing drugs, gotten in deep with the mob, or preparing to leave you for another man. But since marriage is both a romantic and business arrangement in the United States, and finances are community property and you are equally responsible for her debts, you have every legal and moral right to know what she’s doing with your money.

      She could have a burner phone that you don’t know about.

      Here’s what I would do. You can buy GPS devices at Best Buy or even Sears. Charge that puppy up, pay the fees, and hide that sucker in her car, and sit in the comfort of you chair and see where the hell she’s going. I’d also order a credit check to see what she’s doing with your money.
      Chloe Jeffreys recently posted..Are Bloggers Exploited? Well, that Depends®.My Profile

      • Thank you for your reply. We have been fighting like cats and dogs over this issue! I have already seen an attorney about this and have protected myself. She has been pulling out money from Raley’s and Wal-mart. 1270.00 and 1320.00 at a time and sending money through UPS. It matches money she has deposited in her account to the penny including the cost of UPS. She has been doing these withdrawls almost everyday in august. I told her a husband and wife do not keep secrets from each other. Her response is it is a job and it is none of my business! I told her I just got back from my doctors and my blood pressure is going through the roof! Her reply was I DO NOT CARE! This tells me she has already checked out emotionally! What is your opinion? Thank you

        • Don, I think the writing is in the wall. I’m not a betting woman, but if I was my money would be on the high probability that there’s another man. Or maybe a woman. If you want to save this marriage, and after all you’ve told me, God only knows why, you need to know what’s really going on. Hire a private investigator if you don’t want to do it yourself. And get some counseling from someone to help you prepare for your divorce. Take care of you. This bitch does not sound like she’s worth having a stroke over.
          Chloe Jeffreys recently posted..Are Bloggers Exploited? Well, that Depends®.My Profile

          • Thank you I thought I knew someone after 23 years but I guess not! Sad she cant even be honest with me! I sold my home for her so she could have a home something she has never owned before! I married her so she would have medical insurance what a fool I have been! Thank you you have been a tremendous help!

          • Don, i cant feel your pain but i understand your stress, you should be talking to Jesus. Go to a church and look for a prophet. remember David in the bible, he used to consistently consult prophets for God’s counsel. Stop dealing with life like there is no answer. Crying over spilt milk does your blood pressure no good Don. Go to God, or at least find a prophet of God..DO NOT GO TO FORTUNE TELLERS OR MEDIUMS, they will connect your soul to the devil, IF you receive their services.

          • Thanks Chloe for responding to my posts and questions. I think I hang on so hard is because after 23 years you think you know someone. I have been working out a lot lately and looking better then I have in years. I guess I am more confused then anything. She is gone for 3 weeks and I will get the answers from her in to what is going on with all these money dealings and such when she gets back. Just the fact that she wants space from me because of my actions acting insecure is what is bothering me. She has told me there is no one else repeatedly and I asked her why then does she not tell me what is behind all this money dealings? She tells me it is someone’s private business and will tell me when it is over. At this point I do not know if I should pull her cell phone from her when she is asleep or let it go until she gets back from arizona?

          • I found out my wife has gotten in to DC Fulfillment center a business I am not familiar with. She got a package in the mail from there but I did not open it as she is not here and I respect it is her mail. Yes I am an open honest and loyal man and she seems to take advantage of me because of my personality. She is very angry with me and everything I say to her pisses her off. She took off the other day to house sit for 5 days as she said she needs space because we are around each other 24/7 because we are retired. I was going to go to an appointment and said goodbye to her and then went back in to the house and asked for the costco card to get gas and she yelled at me and said this is what I hate about you! I said forget it and left. Later when I came home and she was gone she left me a note telling me she just needed to get away and thought I should get away also when she gets back. She said she thought it would really be good for both of us. She also told me she was not running from me and just needed a little time for herself. She also said she loves me and has never stopped loving me. She also knows how stressful this whole thing has been on our relationship! ANY IDEAS? THANKS CHLOE

          • Yes I did find out my wife was on-line with a man 20 years younger than myself. I told her she needed to be totally honest with me and she was. She has told me she has been in conversation with this guy john james who works on an oil barge and that he loves her and wants her to leave me even going as far as to tell her he would come to my house and tell me she was leaving me. I told her he would NEVER make it out of my house alive I would put my 9mm up his ass and he would be dead! But it turns out it is a scam and she lost 64 thousand dollars and I even doubt this guy exists! She told me she was not going to leave me but needed the attention because she was lonely! I realize if I do not get past this we will get divorced. We never use to fight and now it seems thats all we do! OH WELL LIFE GOES ON!!!!!!!!

          • CHLOE you hit it on the nail only the guy does not exist! only a scammer that got 64 thousand dollars of hers! I have lost all respect for her! Time for me to move on!

          • You are fucking kidding me, Don? She was being swindled? Well, I can’t say I’m too sad for her. She sounds like she’s made her bed. I hope you choose to let her lie in it. Alone. Go find yourself happiness elsewhere. I think she has none to give. Good luck!

          • yes she got scammed by this nigerian scam for 64 thousand dollars but it was all her money and I had gone to an attorney to protect myself. The police are involved investigating it. I was in special ops in the 70’s so I am familiar with how these Nigerians work! Times have changed and it is a different world now so I know these scammers are quite slick! She thought she was texting with a 40 year old buffed guy named John James and using an attorney named Adam Witkover which is a real attorney but they were using his name. I uncovered a lot of information and she had opened a gmail account to deal with all the transactions. I hacked in to the account and found 100’s of messages. She finally admitted to me that they were sexual in nature. So be told in truth she was having a emotional affair with a scammer who was telling her he loved her and promised her the world but took her for 64 thousand dollars! I pulled the picture up of him and how scammers use these pictures to lure women like her for money! Pretty unbelievable huh?!

        • pray and begin to separate your finances and perhaps begin a legal separation not to divorce but for both of you to get individual and couples counselling I am not sure that this is a reason to divorce seems no therapy has happened and too much fighting each other instead of fighting for each other. Also if you do not have a hobby get one you will need something to help you through this stressful time. Blessing to you

      • you are o dome woman ok GOD IS A LIVING GOD U ARE PROBABLY THE DEVIS BEST FRIEND DONT LISTEN TO THIS STUPIED WOMAN SHE IS HIGH ON Drugs

        • Katrina, could you please stop trying to “help” people and claiming to be a follower of Jesus? You are making us look hateful and we are to be seen as Christians through our LOVE. Try it out, you’ll be happier, become closer to Jesus, and stop hurting his image through your fear.
          Blessing to you

  12. Chloe—-my apologies for posting a comment before reading all that had already been added. Mine was not original. And my sympathies with your thinking and approach grew as I read your gentle and respectful (a la 1 Pet. 3:15) replies to so many. what a gift you have and how nicely you use it!! I’m a bit of a dinosaur re: the computer age—and not much of a blog-follower. but I’ll tune in to yours now & then. I’m sure you’re a helpful addition to some honest seekers’ journeys. Blessings.

  13. I think the problem isn’t so much in thinking God has a “wonderful plan” as in how we understand that. If it means fairy tale “living happily ever after”” in the here & now, it’s not true. If, however, it means a life of blessing, joy and usefulness in God’s kingdom, I think it’s real. We can have the same problem with everyone’s favorite NT promise, “all things work together for good….”. i.e. we usually take “good” to mean “pleasant” from our oh-so-limited perspective. The context in Rom. 8 make becoming more like Christ the “good”. I think God does have indeed a “wonderful plan”—i.e. to make us more an more able to enjoy a forever with him in a life of perfect love. Busy love. Along the way in this life, there will be “tribulations” and “crosses”. God will still “set joy” before his children.

    • I agree with you. The problem is how we define “wonderful” and “good”. Jesus said that following him would cost us. What’s the price? That’s different for every person. I know people who seem to live charmed lives, and I know people who seem to have nothing but struggles and strife. And I haven’t necessarily seen a correlation between these two extremes and the level of faith a person has.

      The danger and the damage comes when we make people going through struggles feel badly about their faith. And we do that when we imply that if they simply had more faith the bad things wouldn’t be happening to them, or if they had more faith they wouldn’t be upset about it. Faith has nothing to do with how many struggles we’ll have in this life. The rain falls on everyone, although not equally. There are wonderfully faithful Christians in Iraq fleeing for their lives as I type this response. Is their situation a result of poor faith? No! Their experience is one many, many Christians (and non-Christians!) have experienced throughout history. So when I hear and read Christians in this country saying, “It’s getting so bad, Jesus must be coming soon.” and I look around and don’t see starvation, real persecution, or anything but another strip mall going up, I’m left to wonder if these people ever read the news.

        • God is very real! When I lost my 2nd wife to cancer she “went” to heaven and saw a beautiful place and all her pain was gone she felt nothing but love and joy! She was allowed to come back and say goodbye to our young kids and then died the next morning. Her father never had faith before this and that brought him closer to God! Yes even though I have had pain and heartache in life and now what I am going through is yet really painful as I love my wife so very much I feel I am slowly losing her! Maybe the good lord has someone else for me? The lord God is my in my heart and Jesus is my savior! John 3:16!

  14. I have faith in my Lord Jesus Christ,He is above the mentality given to us and understands you better than you know yourself Chloe.

  15. Without suffering and pain, we wont need God, and since onnly God knows the end from the beginning and beginning to the end he already knows our choices and sins. Believe it or not, the Devils system puts many of us in a corner with no good cboices and Many Suffer and instead of hardening their hearts they keep going by the golden rule, and the Devil cant stand that certain afflicted Christians would rather hurt themselves rather than others. It is why many self medicate, We dont go into poty parties and on selfish bingrs. We struggle to keep our sanity because Satanloves to continue to pummel the child of abuse and broken heartedness that Jesus sought out and tjese that took Christ as a child right here in America. And were given a divine appkintment yet never trusted church people with their fake hypocracy. This hard life and satan repeats the rejection. Makes me wonder if i will be a martyr. I am not praising the Lord at the prospect of decapitation. I still cry, i get angry i go full circle to understand, forgive and keep talking to Jesus as much as I can. Tell him all about it, but I dont blame him or God. I know that Jealous Bast__d Satan, he hates those who forgive others and accept Gods forgivness for our sins. Jesus shows me that the condemnation is not from him. It comes from the Devil . And guilt that puts us iin deep depression over smoking cigs or pot. He really kicked in high gear showing whats going on in the world the day i said , ghru tears i dont care what Satann says im gonna keep talking to God and Satan cant stkp me from serving God, because of bad habits, i dont care if i end up in hell he’s mot gonna win. I am not gonna be motivated by fear. I know God loves me cos hes the only one who ever has. Next thing i know i start seeing lots of scary things that i had no problem believing. Knowing how crjel and evil people can be. But i dont let that affsct the GOLDEN RULE. THIS IS WHAT MY ABUSER, WHO ALSO WAS MY SOURCE OFINSPIRATION AND AFFECTION. MY DAD God, imparged wisdom to me thru my Dad who abused me out of femper tantrums and selfishness, het had some sound principals and advice. This whole life is a mystery, just dont SEPARATE YKURSELF FROM GOD. READ THE BIBLE, HOW MANY CHANCES DOES HE GIVE HIS PEOPLE ISRAEL. He still loves them and they know Nesus is Lord but choose the god of this world like all the ENLIGHTENED ONES. Who think fallen angels can be their god, and they dont need a creator that makes them wait for their rewards in heaven. Dont stop talking to God, he will listen to your angriest hurt. He will show you in the spirit who he is and why you are able to love and forgive others, and thats why Jesus talmed about prayer without ceasing. Just do like Jesussaid. God is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. Its satans seed that reject God.Not his children, unforgivness keeps someone from truly accepting Christ and never really being saved. Once saved you cant become unsaved unless you renounce him and choose Satan. So quit being angry with God and work it thru to forgiving yourself for blaming him. And that should do the trick

    • This was a very long comment. You definitely took a great deal of time writing this out, and that deserves some acknowledgement. The ending though? Wowza. You couldn’t have paraphrased one of Job’s friends any better. This is exactly the sort of response I see given to many people who are in a crisis of faith.

  16. I love the post and it makes alot of sense just that its on the extreme side of things. I know that its one extreme addressing another.

    The word does say that “All things work out for good for them who love Him and are called according to his purpose”

    I think that we should except that fact that if you are a child of God you might not have a great life all the time but Gods will will be achieved in your life.

    That’s the great pleasure that we will enjoy, God’s will.

    Prosperity Preaching is a bit of a poison but we must also elude to the fact that Jesus does want us to succeed and wants us to have cars, houses and wonderful life but he also wants us to serve him with a serving heart.

    Property has a purpose, look at the book of Acts and we will understand why God blesses others more than others

    • Mbuso, I somewhat agree and disagree with what you’ve written here. Yes, Romans 8:28 does say that God causes “everything to work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes” — but it does not define what “good” means.

      Our American/Western definition of “good” is essentially the lack of bad things (such as cancer, job loss, abusive relationships, et al). But what if God used your cancer, for example, to bring other people into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ? Then He is using your cancer for good. This could turn into a huge, deep debate, I know — but my point is, God’s view of “good” is not the same as ours.

      God’s main desire for us, besides that we love Him with all our heart & soul, is that we would become more and more like Jesus — and let’s be honest here: our character is generally not built stronger during the easy fun times. It’s build during adversity.

      You said, “Jesus wants us to succeed” — but I disagree that this means having “cars, houses, and a wonderful life.” It MIGHT (as you indicated, like in the book of Acts) — but it also might NOT. We can still give God glory and have a “wonderful life” without cars or houses. It’s what’s in our heart and how we live out our faith, loving God and loving other people.

      I don’t know much about Chloe, but I completely agree with what she wrote in this post!

  17. I cannot believe how many non-believers that are out there! I have had my share of heartaches in my life! My first wife left me for another man my second wife was a control freak and made me feel little with her horrible comments about me and I took care of her until she died of cancer. Now my third wife after I have been in the emergency room with my back and dealing with it for the last 10 years and helping take care of my 83 year old dad who is slowly dying of heart disease has told me that she is not happy and does not think she is in love with me anymore. I have always been there for her! Why is this just bad luck on my part? I still believe in God and believe that Jesus is my savior! Our world has become a cesspool with war and gangs and drugs and immoral behavior!

    • Your trials could be learning experiences that feed into a plan. Hard times don’t mean Jesus isnt there. It means he is by you side helping you through it or watching that you grow while not being overwhelmed. This world honestly doesn’t matter, we just feel consumed by it because it is all we know so far. Even Gods most elect were challenged. From illnesses to losing everything to being asked for them to sacrifice their family. God never promised us the easy road, he promised us he’d be there and a better eternity. Stay strong and walk with God. It will work out.

      • Thank you for your great reply! Going through what I am going through I would not wish on my worst enemy! My wife is making my life a hell for me and she knows it. She has told me she is sorry and I told her if she wants to leave I would help her get settled and help her in anyway. Her reply was you would do that for me? I said of course I would because I love her. Maybe I am a fool but I am a humble caring man and I cannot change that. Again thank you I will stay strong and walk with God.

  18. Wow, as I read the headline I just had to read on. I’m so sad that for most people they don’t get into God’s Word for themselves and see what the Lord says about His wonderful plan for our lives. He always causes us to triumph. (2 Cor. 2:14). He has plans for us that give us a future and a hope (Jerem. 29:11). We hear the JOYFUL call to worship (Psalm 89:15). And of course 2 Cor. 2:15. The fact is that GOD HAS A WONDERFUL PLAN for your life. It begins and ends in Christ. Looks like you might have an opportunity to share the Truth about our walk with the Lord to those who are hurting and walking away from God. Christlikeness is the goal and life is the venue where we get to learn how to do just that and it is good!
    Rebekah Beene recently posted..See What Great Love We Have from the Lord!My Profile

  19. Bad things that happen to believers in Christ , are sometimes from choices we make , see we have free will and when we choose out of the will of God the consequences are painful. This is why the word of God says , my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Now the question is, what knowledge? Answer is , the knowledge of God . He designed a an awesome plan for each one of our life’s and we discover this by receiving Jesus as lord over our lives and developing a relationship with Jesus Christ , kink of king and Lord of lords .

  20. Shalom,
    I agree with you, and I know the answer to why this is true. The reasoning is spelled out in detail on any of our websites, but to make a long answer short. It is because Jesus is a fictional character invented by the Roman Church to satiate the pagans that they conquered. Jesus was based on the real life of Yahshua, a minister (raboni or teacher of YHVH). In reality Christianity is a pagan religion and is often termed as christopagan. The main goal is to CONTROL the MASSES for personal gain by the church and state.
    You could actually say that Jesus is The Anti-Messiah; a.k.a. Anti-christ .
    Proof exists on The Sabbatarian Network.

    • Christianity are people who have made a decision to make Jesus there lord and savior. It is not a pagan religion . The deciples and fallowers of Christ began to do the works of God just as Jesus did , then the Romans took the gospel and turned it to a pagon religion by adding pagon rituals as a form of control. But God is raising up a remnant a people that are sold out , on fire , for Christ that are emerging from the dry , cold formalism of the traditional church. They have a boldness and zeal that is breaking through religious barriers and denominationalism .

  21. Ohhhhh soooo very true! Jesus didn’t promise us a life of all sunshine and lollipops down here, but He did give us the hope of eternal life with Him in heaven! He said “my kingdom is NOT if this world”. We are living on the earth where there is everywhere the evidence of the effects of the curse of sin on the human race. This life ain’t heaven… The next life is. That’s not to negate that Jesus also said “my peace I give unto you, not as the world gives give I unto you”. Aaaah the blessing of having his peace and love on our sometimes rough journey through this life…He also said “be of good cheer…I HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD.” Chloe… You have made a very good point my dear sister!

  22. Hi, your article’s title caught my attention and l had to respond. The perverse prosperity gospel and its messengers, according to Paul in Galatians 1:6-12, are to be ACCURSED!!! The ONLY gospel is in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. Period. The church in America is in deplorable condition. Sin is tolerated and swept under the rug. The needy are treated like they’re irresponsible drug or gambling or shopping addicts who “deserve” the misery they are going through. I had one deacon actually tell me that the church sometimes doesnt help people cause they dont want to get in God’s way of dealing with that person. Wow! How far the church has fallen!!!! I’ve had my share of sorrows, health problems, very ill child (we are at Mayo clinic now trying to save her life.) And through all this the lack of compassion of so-called Christians has driven me to hatred. But then God reminds me of truth in His Word and l pray to forgive them. I know God is good and l rest in that knowledge. I believe now more than any other time in history we have so many fake Christians trying to “do” the Christian life without Christ! They cant minister compassion because they dont have the Holy Spirit guiding them. You made some EXCELLENT points. Thank you for starting this much needed discussion.

    • Hannah, thank you for commenting and asking such a difficult question. I have decided to believe anyway. Is that a cop-out? Or is that faith? I don’t know. But the Chloe who believes in God is happier than the Chloe who doesn’t. I choose happy.

      • Hi, I wanted more from you with this question. It is my exact issue. I always had a deep belief/faith/knowing. As I become more aware of the scientific truth and the hate written in the Bible it is harder and harder to believe in a zombie with magic abilities. I want to my life is less without the faith I feel the empty and fear the outcome. Thanks for your observations.
        Lost inside my mind not my soul,
        Rebecca

      • Believing in God because He makes us happy is the same as believing in God because He makes our life wonderful. God isn’t a happy pill or a make your life wonderful pill.

        When I study the human body, specifically neurology, I see God. I don’t believe in a God outside of science. I see God in science. I see that God created the human brain and it wasn’t just some convenient evolution. Wow! Now we can think, how great. I’m glad the pond scum that evolved into an ameba has such a grand plan that includes intelligent thought. No way! I see that a brain so complex, so intricate has to be designed by a master craftsman. Science demonstrates a grand design and the study of science doesn’t glorify man, it glorifies God.

    • I’d like more on this too—i’ve heard similar remarks from friends. Wonderful, intelligent and sensitive friends. But i’m puzzled—-i guess the “god” they no longer accept is the ‘god of the gaps’ we need to fill in the blanks of things we limited mortals can’t grasp. And every new leap of knowledge shrinks the gaps. But for my money, recent (wonderful!) discoveries in the outer universe or the marvelous inner universe (neurology) just magnify my sense of wonder. To me it takes ever increasing faith to believe it’s all just random. But i hope you’ll add more—and I’m sorry I added so much. The host of this thread is so wonderfully succinct. ; )

  23. The is one of the most realistic points of views I’ve read in forever. I am a believer in Christ but I don’t believe that you start receiving a bunch of riches and such once you start following Christ. I long to get married, and in my mid 30’s not a prospect on sight. My Christian friends are always telling me not to worry that God has someone for me because I’ve been obedient. Says who? Maybe that’s not in Gods plan for me. And I am obedient for other reasons not because I would like a husband. And that way of thinking is not good. I believe that that the main reason is to save our souls, to bridge the gap that was once there between us and God so that we may have eternal life with Him after.

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  27. In a nutshell Jesus does have a good plan for your life. But what is a plan? A plan is nothing more than what to do in any given circumstances.

    At my age here is what I want to tell young people:

    I cant predict what will happen to you. It may be smooth sailing or many rough things. You will not know why until you finally die and go to heaven. But this I do know: You should not dare attempt or waste one damn second to find out why something happened you did not cause or go through life without believing God and leaning on him and getting off your ass to fix all you can and help yourself and then help others. Leaning on him does not necessarily mean you feel great or get what is going on. But something better will occur. You have to realize you only have two choices on earth. Most people believe you have many. You only have two. Believe God or satan. There is no such thing as maybe, unfortunately. You are a spiritual being and have to accept it. I have lived through wars, remember reading the headlines about the most heinous murders and had a sister die at age 42 in my arms. STUFF HAPPENS BUT I WILL NOT MAKE BITTERNESS MY GOD. God is always moving, shit happens and at some point you get comfort or you die and get to be with him. That is just the way it is. With satan shit happens, you might get comfort just enough to make you believe God is a jerk and then you die and live in misery forever.

    Its a choice. God is not Santa Claus. But he does promise a perfect end. The other guy, satan promises nothing in the end. And he will do whatever it takes to get your off track.

    I hate growing old, and the thought of dying. I have to be old for 30, 40 years. Ick. But I know it is temporary. The day is coming when I get to be young again FOREVER and get the answers I want.

  28. Great insights! God does have a wonderful plan for us but not always the way we might imagine using only human wisdom. The plan is for us to be changed and to live eternally with Him and enjoy His presence as we wait.
    The “prosperity” gospel is based solely on the lusts of the flesh – what we think would be “wonderful.” Thankfully God doesn’t answer every misguided whim that we “claim.”

    What we think we “need” changes as we grow in God!

  29. Those heels – on that bridge – girlfriend, you’re looking to break your leg! (and get a slew more of Job’s friends visiting you in the hospital!)

  30. Neal January 16, 2014 at 6:50 am

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    Chloe I hope to meet you one day in Heaven and give you a hug. I so love this post. It’s is the bacon on my samich.

    I get so tired of someone taking a historical narrative and applying it to a life principle. IF we would just be honest and tell new converts that life WILL likely get worse, but our reward is in heaven. Thank you for giving me hope in other “brothers” that understand this.

  31. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11. God does have a plan to bless us in this life. However, shortly after this passage, the Israelites (in exile and eventually enslaved) fall into all sorts of trouble–sword, pestilence, genocide, you name it.

    I think we need to be careful how we communicate what constitutes “wonderful,” because as you pointed out, we Americans have a very specific, probably erroneous idea of what that is. I think we imagine “wonderful” as getting every desire of our heart fulfilled, but as Jeremiah again reminds us, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (17:9). God, in the Old AND New Testament, promises freedom, joy and life. Yes, there is a cost, and there will be trials. But, let’s not make too little of God’s promises just because we or others have made much more of them than God himself in the past.

    • Chloe I hope to meet you one day in Heaven and give you a hug. I so love this post. It’s is the bacon on my samich.

      I get so tired of someone taking a historical narrative and applying it to a life principle. IF we would just be honest and tell new converts that life WILL likely get worse, but our reward is in heaven. Thank you for giving me hope in other “brothers” that understand this.

  32. Thank you for you Chloe for being real!! JESUS said the peace He gives isn’t of the world… He said that we will have trial and tribulations… He said to deny ourselves and carry the cross!! He is our peace and joy! He is our refuge and strength!! He is our all in all! Those who love the things of the world don’t have the love of the father!! Just because folks seem to have it all together financially or whatever doesn’t mean it’s the blessings of GOD pouring over them.. As if they have a perfect life.. Better to eat herbs then a table full of meat and a household filled with strife… Psalm 37 and Psalm 73 are speaking truth just as the rest of the WORD of GOD Almighty!!! We must die to self.. Trust in the LORD NO MATTER WHAT!! Those who overcome shall be saved… He IS THE WAY THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE!! Only through JESUS, (believing in His death, burial, and resurrection…) can we get to the Father! The precious Blood of the only Begotten Son of GOD washes away our sins!! That should be what truly brings freedom from expecting “happiness” in this corrupt world! We deserved hell! Yet CHRIST, being sinless DIED FOR US!!!! Paul preached CHRIST crucified! Not some mumbo jumbo psychological emotionalism!! It’s FAITH IN CHRIST JESUS!! What He did!! Who He is on our behalf!!!! GLORY TO GOD!!! Let’s not be deceived for the last days they preach what itching ears want to hear and many will walk away from the faith!! Do not be deceived from another gospel! The simplicity in CHRIST and having childlike faith in Him and His Finished Work alone!!! CHRIST said it is FINISHED!!! He wasn’t lying!!! God Bless all the children of GOD WHO DO THE WILL OF THE FATHER!!!

  33. You fundamentiltiy don’t understand christian doctrine, and you are looking for a way to turn your back on it anyways rather than look at the true doctrine of Christ. So if you want to turn your back that’s fine those anwsers are always easy to find. P.S. Job is part of the old testament before Christ, so while Job is a good allegorical story it is not the christian faith because it precedes Christ. But, christians who know what they believe actually draw closer to Christ during times of suffering. So are you looking for your faith or just more fuel to move away from it?

  34. I’m a Christian and I believe you have something-we as Christians are used to hearing about this wonderful plan that Jesus has and as a caregiver for my wife who has Alzheimer’s I have seriously wondered about this wonderful plan UNTIL I read and read and re-read a book titled “In the Shadow of the Cross” by Glenn Penner. It talks about original intent of the Scriptures, they were written for guidance and for encouragement, and hope for the persecution that the new Church would be enduring-in reading this I too have come to the conclusion that the life of the Christian is one of selfless sacrifice-we have been purchased with a price-JESUS’ death-if HIS life was an example and we think that we are supposed to be happy and wealthy and healthy and all the rest then we haven’t come to realize who JESUS is or was. But the good life IS sacrificing our wants and desires for HIS-that is what we signed up for when we asked JESUS to take over our lives!! Momentary light affliction of this world will absolutely pale in comparison to what we have waiting for us in Heaven. I could go on and on. I think you have offered a very valid complaint about the Western version of Christianity.

    • Thank you, William. I am sorry about your wife. I cannot imagine how heart-breaking it is to watch your beloved wife suffer, but your suffering has to be so much harder. One of the most fun things my husband and I do is reminisce about our lives together. I cannot imagine what it would be like to have that taken away from me. It would be like having our memories erased in front of my eyes.

      As I said in the article, I still believe in God, but I resent having God and the suffering of so many reduced to a few cliches that sound good, but encourage and reassure no one. Thank you for your thoughtful response.

      • The thing that got me started to doubt the business about GOD and HIS plan for my life started when I heard a sermon from a Pastor who was debunking the same type of thinking concerning one’s career-GOD does not really care what you do as long as you are doing for HIM and are in partnership with HIM in the Great Commission of spreading the Gospel. The more I have thought about that the more I have come to believe that it is true. We simply need to be GOD’s representative wherever we are. And thank you for the kind words.

    • William I am so sorry about your wife. I took care of my 2nd wife until she died of cancer in 89. It was a tough road and now going through another hard time! I will say a prayer for you and your wife! Take care Don

  35. i love the cartoon. i think you may be missing part of the story. i can only speak for myself, but to all outward appearances it would look like i follow your pattern: tragedy, the occasional job friend (though thats a bit of a stretch), then atheism

    but in reality, atheism had been creeping in unseen for nearly a decade. i didnt want to admit it, and i played a game with myself of “how little can i believe and still honestly call myself a christian?” and i kept up appearances of looking as christian as anyone else.

    the tragedy merely gave me permission to question openly. to doubt loudly and in front of others. and finally to just say the words out loud: i dont believe in a god, and i probably havent for quite some time. because honestly, when a child dies, who cares what your friends and family think anymore?

    i wonder how many of your friends were keeping this inner doubt from you and themselves longer than you knew?

    • David, thank you for your thoughtful and honest comment. I suspect that many were already struggling with the simplicity of a modern Christian theology that denies the reality of suffering, or when it does acknowledge it, blames the victim.

    • Thanks! I appreciate it. I think it is possible to say that Jesus’ plan is wonderful as long as you include things like martyrdom and rejection in the list. But if people want to define wonderful by financial success or ease then they don’t know the Bible very well.

      • Healing, prosperity, and deliverance are not found in any other books but in the Bible. Failing to believe these promises would be denying the Bible. The Bible is full of scriptures that promise health, prosperity, and deliverance. Don’t go by experience, go by faith. Just because every one does not get healed does not mean that healing is not ours. If you go by experience, then you have to doubt your salvation too, because it says that he who believes in Him does not sin. If you can believe this portion of scripture, even though you have not experience it fully, then why are you doubting the word that says, they shall Kay hands on the sick, and they shall be made well?

        • Dear Natan,

          I’m going to guess that English is not your first language. Otherwise your comment doesn’t make much sense. The Bible does not promise health or prosperity to Christians. Such promises were made to certain Jews IF, and ONLY IF they are obedient. But by the time of Jesus, God apparently had finally realized that human beings are incapable of obedience. God had to come up with another way, and had to finally acknowledge that all of the righteousness and obedience in the world do not a healthy and wealthy life make.

    • I have to disagree with this. Perhaps Jesus did not say, word for word, “I have a wonderful plan for your life”. But, even in Scripture, Jesus makes it clear that he has a true plan for our lives. Take Matthew 10:29-31: “Are not two sparrows sold of a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. Even all the hairs on your head are counted. So do not be afraid, you are worth more than many sparrows.” I especially like that last line: basically Jesus saying “Fear not, I care for you.” And also, most everyone has heard of the parable of the lost sheep. What’s do we get out of that? Its the fact that God cares for each one of us and has a plan. No one is left behind. While we may not see what is going on in our lives as “wonderful”, its important to remember that “wonderful” is a worldly tag we put on things, the true goodness and meaning of what happens to us is in the musterion, the mystery of our faith. It takes faith and trust in God, but if we are willing to put it forth and believe that where he leads us is right, and “wonderful” in his eyes, then we will receive our due reward in heaven.
      To establish our destiny, our final destination, which is most certainly heaven, is the very reason Christ humbled himself – he is God – in the form of a man on earth. If that’s not evidence that he cares for each one of us in full, then I don’t know what is. I understand others may not agree, but in my 14 short years of live is has been made clear to me that no matter what happens, good or bad, according to God’s plan it will benefit the greater good and further his will on earth and in heaven.

  36. When I asked Jesus into my life I went to a quiet place to sleep, and I heard Him say “I love you and have a plan for your life”.
    Thats enough for me whatever the plan x

  37. Interesting Title, it caught my attention. I can agree that we often present the American Dream and just sprinkle a little “Jesus” on it, as if He will secure our own plans. You especially hit on something that concerns me too, in that Prosperity teaching often builds an expectation that one can attain to a place of “zero negative occurrences” if enough faith is present. I have a hard time seeing that kind of approach from Jesus or the early Church.
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  39. Right on! We have had to deal with people who just “know” that if we’d only been more spiritual, if I hadn’t let Andrew associate with public school kids (and even worse..foster kids!), if I had kept him sheltered, and if I hadn’t had my nose pierced, well then God wouldn’t have taken him in the crash.

    Bull hockey. Every journal entry my son made ended with some form of, “Here am I God, use me as you will, I’m your servant” If he had the chance to make the choice, if God had said to him, “Son, in one hour you will have a choice to make. You can get in the back of this truck and go home to be with me soon after. 24 + people will come to know me through your death. You can get in the front of the truck and go home to be with your parents and your life will go on and those same people MIGHT come to know me before they die.” He would have ran and jumped in the back of that truck.

    So yeah, I miss him terribly but I’m incredibly proud of who he was and the impact he made.

    And I still believe God has a plan for my life. I don’t always believe I’ll like the plan though.

    Thank you Chloe.

    • Deana, I am still so very sorry about the loss of your son. Of all the things that have ever happened to anyone I know, his death was, and remains, one of the most tragic. It most certainly cannot be classified as a “wonderful” plan on this side of heaven, and it would be insulting for anyone to suggest that you should be anything but crushed by it. I am so sorry that it happened at all. I wish I understood why the good that came from it couldn’t have happened without his loss.

  40. MY TRUE STORY OF MY ENCOUNTER WITH GOD
    I confessed {ROMANS 10:9)” That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Je’sus, and shalt believe in thine heart that GOD hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved”. I gave my life to JESUS at the tender age of 14, and about two weeks later this is what happened to me. On one morning in late 1986, I was getting up and I was on my way to use the restroom and saw that everybody was sound asleep. Right across my room was the restroom, and as I begin to walk toward the restroom, I heard the spirit of GOD say to me, “Look in your hand”. I began to say back to the spirit of GOD, “Why would I look in my hand?” Then the spirit of GOD spoke for the second time, “I said look in your hand”. By now I am still talking back to the spirit of GOD and looking up at the ceiling because I didn’t know what was going on. I was only 14 years old when this happened to me, so as you can imagine, I was frightened. So for the third and final time the spirit of GOD’s voice got louder and louder! HE said to me, “I said to look in your hand!!!” This time I looked at my right hand and I saw what looked like a puddle of blood, but here’s the thing: it was not bleeding. (EXODUS 3:2-3) “And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.3. And Mo’ses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.”Then, right in the center of my right hand I noticed that GOD had put a beautiful cross there!
    By now I had gone to my mother’s room and knocked as hard as I could on her door and when she opened the door and saw my hand, the only thing she was saying was Oh my God! Oh my God! We did not know what to do, so we just decided to pick up the phone book and call up some of our local pastor’s to tell them what had happened to me. My mother and I came across a particular pastor in Newnan, Georgia, and we decided to call him. My mother started to tell this pastor about all that had happened to me, and this is what the pastor told my mom: “Tell your daughter to show as many people as she can. The pastor also told my mother that GOD had ‘Marked your daughter’. It was so amazing and so touching that GOD had chosen me to put a cross in my right hand, and yes this is a true story! I just Love spending time every day in GOD’s Word and prayer, drawing closer to GOD with each passing day, (PSALM 141:2) “Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.” JESUS CHRIST is my passion!! I just Love Him with every little heart beat and with every breath and with every step I take every day, I’m always over joyed when witnessing to others and sharing the Love of CHRIST! JESUS has worked so many miracles in my life, one of the miracle is that I was a still born baby and JESUS raised me back to life again to do His will here on earth, GOD has a plan for us all {JEREMIAH 29:11} “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Another miracle that JESUS did in my life was in 1993 my husband and I lost our first child but I believed with all my heart that by faith JESUS was going to bless my husband and I with more children [HEBREWS 11:1}” Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.} So, in 1994 GOD blessed us to have a baby boy! And then in 1995 GOD blessed us to have a baby girl! This is just to name a few of the many miracles that JESUS has done in my life! {ROMANS 5:8} “But GOD commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, CHRIST died for us.” JESUS gave us His all and I want to give Him my all, HIS sacrifice shows how deep His Love is for us, and when I think about just how deeply HE Loves us tears just fall from my eyes. I am so happy that one day I will see Him and live with Him forever!
    God Bless You!

  41. Chloe,

    Who doesn’t at one time or another question their faith no matter what that faith is? I know I questioned (and still do) my beliefs all the time but have faith in a core belief. For me that is God and Christ but with the knowledge that there is a difference between religion which is man made and Christianity which is Christ made. In my quest for answers and opinions, I came across a phenomenal book titled ” the Language of God” written by the scientist and head of the Humane Genome Project under President Clinton. He was a devote ( if you can use that word!), atheist who thought he could scientifically disprove the existence of God. Amazingly the more he tried the more he found himself doing the exact opposite. It is an amazing book and one that at times, due to his brilliance, something I have to go back and retread to digest his explanations. There are many wonderful ideas and thoughts out there but I suppose the end result still ends up in the word itself, faith, that gets you through your own journey.

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  43. Chloe, my troubles drive me to God not away from him. I must be a pretty weak person, but whenever I’ve had a crisis — like one recently– where I can’t sleep and feel things are beyond my control, if I didn’t have God to turn things over to, I’d be certifiable. I can’t imagine life on this earth without that support.

    • Love this comment. Thank you, Jamie. Many years ago, when I was a pastor, I visited a shut-in named Marie. I remember her especially because at the end of every visit, she would always say, “Pastor, I just don’t know how anyone who doesn’t know Jesus can handle life with all its pain.” She was an aged and aging widow, and I assumed (in my inexperienced youth) that she was referring to the many losses that come during life. It was not until she died, and I was officiating her funeral, when I saw that as Marie lay in the casket, her hands were gnarled and clutching each other. I had never noticed this during my shut-in visits. I asked the funeral director why her hands weren’t arranged more delicately. His reply was that Marie’s hands were so wracked with arthritis, he was not able to uncurl them. He said he could only imagine the severity and intensity of chronic pain she felt every day of her later life. And so I, too, can not fathom how anyone without Jesus can endure this fallen world even for 70 or so years.

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  46. Excellent post. I believe it’s like the Parable of the Sower. Some get choked with the worries, cares and stresses of life and fall away. Thank goodness for fertile soil.

  47. “Then Jesus said to his disciples: “If anyone wants to come after me, let him disown himself and pick up his torture stake and continually follow me. ” – Matthew 16:24

    Jesus plainly said that being his follower would be difficult. But what blessings a Christian can enjoy! – a clean conscience; everlasting life; and of course, friendship with Jesus and with his father, Jehovah.

  48. I LOVE telling my husband that “Jesus has a wonderful plan for your life” just because I love seeing him break out in trembling and start shouting about bad theology. It’s right up there with “A God shaped hole in everyone’s heart…” He really loves that one too (not). “Come as you are” is also a great one especially if you mutter under your breath “…and leave the same way.” Lately his favorite to roll his eyes to is the song “Someone worth dying for,” which I will be blogging about soon! Ahhh, bad theology; it’s the stuff of legends.

  49. I discovered your blog for an entirely oddball reason: a google search for a picture of the Tick (and your husband is correct. He is the greatest superhero ever). On a whim I just started reading your bio entry and found myself following links. These are some great thoughts on the messy realities of living in the real world. Thanks!

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  52. I do not know where to begin! (this post, the depression posts, the birthing posts, the SL forums posts….I may only get to this one, tonight.)
    I found you through Andrea’s fb (chicken soup post….that’s me:). Am so glad I did. This post speaks particularly to me, as I am….well, like you in my belief. D’oh!
    One book that helped me verbalize my thoughts was “Decision Making and the Will of God” by Freisen. Also, in ‘Simply Christian’ and ‘Surprised by Hope’ by N.T. Wright talks about how the modern western church has so skewed what heaven is/will be and how that affects our lives now.
    I always feel very out of place in our church (among other places). I know people *mean* well but God did not ‘will’, plan or cause my miscarriages or my husband’s job loss several years ago or (fill in the blank). Those difficulties are part of a broken world, but He did not cause them. They served to strengthened and refine my faith and I hope my responses to those trials honored Him. When I reflect His character in my own trials, He is glorified. He doesn’t *need* to cause the trials to glorify Himself.
    Thanks for your words and this blog!!

    • I’m glad you did, too.

      I will look into those books. I’m hoping to get a Kindle for Christmas which should make my book reading a lot easier.

      I also don’t think God causes these problems in our lives. I think most of the time people say stuff like this to comfort themselves.

  53. God’s wonderful plan for us is that, having been made in the image of God, we should be changed into His likeness. And to be like Jesus…didn’t He say something about taking up a cross to follow Him? Look at how our Lord’s wonder-full, divine, and only-blessed life was lived, with no place to lay his head. He suffered persecutions, mockings, human loneliness and finally, crucifixion. That is God’s plan for us, too: that we would suffer with Him even while we look forward to glory. And by His grace, we can count it all joy.
    Thank you for this good reminder!
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    • We all need a reminder that our job is to help carry the yokes of others, not make their burdens worse by piling out own fears and judgments on them as they struggle.

  54. I find that many Christians feel God’s providence is connected with success and the satisfaction of desire, rather than following a suffering Christ into a fallen world. As an Orthodox Christian, I believe a re-apprection for God’s sharing our suffering rather than overcoming it, is a more biblical perspective.

    • Dave, I’ve always had tremendous respect for Orthodox Christianity. I don’t live anywhere close to an Orthodox Church or I would definitely check that out. I think for now I’m just unfit for any church though.

    • Jack, you’re a Satanist?!?! You had me fooled. Okay, I’m joking.

      Dogmatic faith that hurts others is not limited to Christianity. That’s for sure.

  55. Chloe – this was an awesome post!
    When I feel myself getting all, “Why is God doing this to me?” Or “Where is Jesus when you need Him?” I remind myself:
    It’s not what is God doing for me, it’s what am *I* doing for *GOD*.

    In no way did he promise life would be EASY. He did not promise no illness, no strife, no trauma, no heartache.
    When you’re on the bottom, the only place you have to look, is up.
    And? We live in a fallen world where bad things just happen sometimes.

    Great post!
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    • I think that suffering is two-fold.

      1. How we cope with suffering ourselves. When coping with out own suffering we use the things that comfort us the most. Thinking that God has a plan for our lives is very comforting to some people. Remembering that it isn’t about what God is doing for us is comforting for some people. (Well, most people probably feel better when they get out of themselves and do something for someone else).

      2. How we cope with the suffering of others. Remembering that the things I use to comfort myself could feel like a cold slap in the face to someone else would be a good thing to remember. The worst part of any crisis I’ve had is when I’ve felt like other Christians then tried to make the problem ALSO about my faith.

      Then I don’t just have the first problem, now I also have a faith problem?

      I’ve never found this comforting in the midst of the pain.

  56. I’ve never been your normal churchy Christian, so I’ve never had this identity crisis. I asked the same questions before I ever became a Christian and decided that orthodox, denominational Christianity was not for me.

    It still isn’t.

    I believe things about God, Jesus Christ and the bible that sets the hair on fire of most Christians I know.

    Like, I don’t and never embraced the trinity. And I sleep well at night with this non-belief. :) I don’t believe people go to heaven when they die.

    Oh, I could go on.

    I’m just glad I never embraced church and denominational religion. Because I’ve never had an identity crisis.

    But, I firmly believe in the bible as truth. I just actually read it and think about it. I think that simple fact alone separates me from 99 out of 100 Christians.
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    • You made perfect sense to me, Mags.

      If there is a God, then there is a God. Our beliefs about that God don’t have anything to do with His reality.

      I stand by my statement in this post that I think for some of us our “belief” itself becomes our God. That’s a dangerous place to be.

    • won·der   [wuhn-der]
      verb (used without object)
      1. to think or speculate curiously: to wonder about the origin of the solar system.
      2. to be filled with admiration, amazement, or awe; marvel (often followed by at ): He wondered at her composure in such a crisis.
      3. to doubt: I wonder if she’ll really get here.

      Does that help?

  57. Well-written and provocative post, Chloe. ;) I’ve mentally thrown around this whole idea of Jesus having a specific plan or not for individuals for a long time and frankly, I don’t see much evidence for the former idea in scripture or in my own 25 years of knowing Him. I mean, certain people were used to do specific things on occasion in the Bible but for the most part, people were just encouraged to live honorably and with gratitude. I think that’s the “plan” even though we often fail horribly at that. Oh, how I need God’s grace…
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    • I am also not really seeing how there can be a cohesive plan for us that could include free will. In fact, I don’t understand any of that at all.

      If God planned for me to marry some guy, but I never went to the library where I would have met him then does God keep trying to put the guy in my path, or does he make a new plan, or did God know I was never going to go to the library in the first place AND that was part of His plan?

      This is the stuff that makes my head hurt.

  58. Three years ago, I was diagnosed (at one doctor’s appointment) with both scleroderma and FSH Muscular Dystrophy. Look them up, they’re serious and unrelated. How did I respond? I laughed, as Sara laughed. God had given me two gifts unto my salvation. Did I turn from him? No, I embraced my diagnosis, and I drew closer to Him through prayer. Afterall, I have the holy ones, the people ‘not-of-this-world,’ the A-gios, the saints’ lives to draw upon. This is something the Western Christian lacks, the heroic examples of those who suffered deprivation, torture, and death cheerfully for Christ’s sake unto their salvation. Their triumphant journeys make my suffering look small, and insignificant.

    Then, I started praying as I never had before. One night, as I prayed, the Spirit of Truth, the Spirit of Peace visited me and I ‘knew’ I would be fine. I am in remission from scleroderma. I am joyously managing my physical deterioration. I fill other’s lives with smiles, I visit the sick, I contribute whenever and whereever I can to charitable works I can no longer physically assist. I am fortunate. I may never ‘work’ again, but I do give to others.

    To every life some misfortune comes. Our askesis or exercise of our faith is in how we continue in love, and charity toward others. There is always someone in poorer spirit, physical health, or financial straits than you are. God is amazing, and will provide, as he does for the birds, but in measure to how we respond as faithful Christians. It’s not about the house, the car and the vacation; its about the second coat, the drink of water, sharing our last crumb with another. It’s about the joy we share with others, not the bitterness we allow ourselves to wallow in.

  59. When I linked to this post on my blog, someone left a comment I thought was right on, and very important. She observed that Jesus IS the wonderful plan God has for our lives. And it’s true, isn’t it? The destiny of the Christian is to be “conformed to the image of the Son.”
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  60. On target? NO, it is a bullseye! I plan on passing this along and reading your blog. For now it is time for work.

    • Thank you, Leanne.

      I hope that this post will help us all treat each other just a bit better. Thanks for taking the time to comment. I do appreciate it so much.

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  62. This is a great post. I too am sadden by so many turning their hearts away from the faith. I think it is important to understand that bad things can and will happen, but God’s love lasts forever. It has been in my darkest hours that I have leaned on God the most. I understand that He DOES in fact have a plan for my life and that ALL things work together for my good. That is where faith comes in. Most find faith easy when things are going well. But holding on to it when hell is breaking loose is important.
    Additionally, I think Christians need to share their faith more opposed to selling Christ as a Pollyanna response to life. Bad things can and will happen. We have to love people through them.
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    • I hope that I can become a Christian that can help carry other people’s burdens rather than pelt rocks at them when they stumble and fall. I know many Christians who do this very well. Sadly, I know just as many or more who really suck at it.

  63. Prosperity churches worship a shallow God. Really, he’s more of a attention grabbing celebrity than a God. Pray to me and worship me and I’ll give you money.

    They should change the word “prosperity to “prostitution”.

    But, this post begs the question: why do you believe in/have a relationship with/pray to Jesus?

    Especially if it’s cold comfort during the dark times?

    I have a relationship with God and I don’t believe that he’s here to make my life hunky-dory.

    But, I do feel, like in the hard times, that it’s helpful to have someone with whom to talk things through, or conversely to yell at.

    What’s your reason for your relationship?
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    • I’m the type that when I’m in a dark time I’d like God to fix my problems instead of sitting around holding my hand and telling me how much He understands my pain.

      Why do I have this relationship with Him anyway? Hmmmm. I think that’s the exact question many of my friends have asked this year.

  64. I lost my faith when after a year of “giving my life to Jesus” my mom was murdered in front of my eyes. *I know you probably know by now cause I’m constantly posting crap about it on the internetz, but here we go again* Before it happened I used to literally carry my bible in my purse to college and read it during my breaks.. I was THAT into it. So after the murder, I was PISSED OFF at God. I would think things like “how could you do this to me when I believed in you? Why did you let this happen to me? .. God must not be real if he lets this sort of thing happen!” I don’t know when, but somewhere along the line I was taught/under the impression that accepting Jesus and giving your life to God means no tragedy can occur. Then, the murderer was treated better than my family & I, and almost got off on “Insanity”.. even furthered my belief that God was not real. It wasn’t until this year that I was able to get past these feelings. I was baptized a few months ago and happy to be a believer again, stronger than ever. I still get confused during sermons when they say “God knows every detail about your life.. every single hair on your head. All your days are already written…” I still get kind of mad because I think “oh really? God planned on my mom being murdered at 37?” Someone once said something helpful to me on the topic. She said “There are so many people starving to death in the world when there is more than enough food for EVERY ONE, and people say “How does God let this happen?”.. it’s not God letting it happen, it’s people letting it happen.” I also agree with you that Christians are the first to “kill off their weak” , it’s terrible. Some of the things I See going on or hear about make me ashamed to call myself a christian. No wonder we have such a bad rep! I want to scream from a roof top “No, really, I know God! He is loving, gentle, understanding..not what all these people make it seem!” Ok, starting to ramble.. Thanks for posting this, as always, a great read and makes you think.
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    • Oh my gosh, Megan. I am so sorry for your loss and for the horror of your mother’s murder that you had to witness. That must have been beyond terrible. I can’t even imagine.

      I think you earned a season of anger at God. I have had periods where I didn’t want to believe in God because it was just too painful to do so. So I stopped.

      Just as you’ve said, much of the tragedy in this world is caused by human selfishness. There is enough food to feed everyone, but the food is distributed unfairly.

      We have the means to make the world a much better place for many, but we don’t do it.

  65. Chole – great post! I’ve often wondered how much of the Word people have actually read if/when they have the impression that our faith in God and a relationship with Christ is a ticket to no heartache, incredible success and no direct impact from the chaos we live in? Only in the West (and specifically in the US) does this conversation even take place. The numbers alone would tell us that the mass majority of Christians live in parts of the world where there is no hope for the incredible opportunities of “success” that are experienced here. That their daily lives are filled with the things that most of us could not endure for the shortest period of time. The prosperity gospel has done more harm to the people of the church in America than any scandal I can think of. It also does a disservice in that it keeps the focus of our faith on us… when in fact it has everything to do with others. As for how we sometimes treat other believers and even non-believers who are experiencing challenges or blowback in their lives; “Christianity would be great if not for the Christians” is a theme that too often rings true. Thanks for bringing it up!

    • This is what stuns me. Most people, most Christians do not live in America and do not have the benefits and comforts we enjoy here. Our mistake has been to think that because we have wealth that must mean that God loves us more or protects us more from the slings and arrows of life.

      I think that when one of our own falls down, it brings much anxiety into us because the truth is that none of us can extend our own life by even a moment. We are not in any control.

      Tragedies and sorrows that befall others are a deep reminding of our powerlessness, and a reminding that none of us likes very much.

  66. I agree with most of what was said, but I have to disagree that Jesus doesn’t have a wonderful plan for your life. Jesus does have a wonderful plan for your life, but the objective is not materialism and physical comfort and warm fuzzies. The path to get to where you are going is not always going to be easy. You get to be tested, tried, molded, sifted… Matthew, Peter, and Paul all wrote about rejoicing in suffering, trials, persecution, etc. Why? Because they knew there was something greater, they knew it was perfecting them. I’m sure if someone asked them if Jesus had a wonderful plan for them, they would think so. It’s all a matter of perspective!

  67. I think the Jesus does have a wonderful plan for my life, but I also think it is wonderful from His perspective. From my perspective it has been totally crappy many, many times for extended periods. But I believe, with Julian of Norwich, then when I get to heaven I will look back with God’s eyes and be able to say that all was well done.

    But that is heaven and I am well aware that what comforts me is not what comforts everyone, so in difficult times I tend to think a hug, a meal, a silent prayer and a tissue are more use than anything else. And allowing people to say that life sucks etc etc without being told to pull their socks up and believe harder.

    • Thank you, Tabitha. It is important to remember that what comforts me is not what might comfort someone else.

      I think a good friend is a friend who can listen to our fears and doubts without making it about them. That’s a good friend, and a rare one.

  68. Thank you. Thank you for writing this post. As one who found faith in high school, went on to ministry and teaching others, and now feels completely lost and wanting to jump ship after several experiences in my life (including but not limited to hard times financially, jack-ass christians and abuse of power in the church), this was really good to read. and actually restores hope.

    Thank you for saying what I needed to hear and what I could not voice!
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    • I think there is still is hope, Stephanie.

      Now that I’ve seen so many people go from believer to atheist, I’m trying to put some pieces of the puzzle together looking for common themes. As the Body we ought to be seriously looking within ourselves to see what our role is when so many of our fellow believers are amputating themselves off.

  69. Well said. I agree, there is too much of this attitude. We need to fellowship with believers who help us stay focused on truths like these; who help with our walk. Much of the Christian fellowship I see is more like a faith contes’ or blessing brag- I don’t know, but I left the whole “Church is my life” thing behind- church is my CHURCH, where I go for refreshment, not where I live…. anyway….

    • Maybe we’ve come to expect too much from The Church in the way that we’ve come to expect too much from husbands and wives. People cannot fulfill our needs 100% of the time. They just can’t. They will always let us down.

      But for those of us left, maybe it is time to take a hard look at our roll, if we have one, in this mass exodus we’re seeing. Do we have a part to play? And if so, what is it?

      If anyone is interested in why young people leave the Church, check out this article from Barna.org: Five Myths About Young Adult Church Dropout

  70. I’ve had some pretty crappy things happen to me this past year or two. And I am tired of it. But I do believe that God ultimately has plans for a hope and future for me. But I think it’s an eternal hope and future…not necessarily a comfortable, happy life here right now. I will tell you, I think before I speak now. And often I don’t have the words to say. And at that point I’d rather shut up than say, “It will all be okay.” Because sometimes it’s not okay and won’t be this side of heaven.

    • If there is a God (and I believe there is) and there is a heaven then our hope is in heaven. The mistake we fat and happy Americans have made is thinking that God means for our heaven to be here in the things we have and the things we consume.

    • That’s a good clarification, Kelly. I didn’t say that people make Jesus into an idol, but rather that people make their own belief in Jesus their idol.

  71. I was thinking about this last night, based on a friend’s blog post. (She’s been through what seems like the book of Job, and she posted all the things people said to her, during those times.) It seems to me that the “you must have done something, to make these things happen” comes from the same basic question of “if God is good, why do bad things happen?” It’s really hard to let Him be in charge, when things don’t go the way we think they should.

    • Since these sorts of questions are as old as Job, I think they go to our fundamental misunderstanding of God. (Although, frankly I’m not sure that God does that great of a job making Himself understood all the time.)

      And we can be sure it is a complete misunderstanding since we’ve got God’s strong, and very negative, response to Job’s friends.

  72. Hey Chloe,

    I still believe that Jeremiah 29:11 is true… the He does know that plans that He has for me, plans to prosper me and not harm me, plans to give me a hope and a future.

    I don’t think that “prosper” means finances.

    I also still believe that *all* things work together for good for those who love God; and have been called according to His purpose.

    I think the key is that He knows the plans… not that we get to decide the plan, or that the plan will even will even happen. It’s that He knows the plan…. and the plan is good.

    Good does not mean easy. Good does not mean fun. Good – is simply good.

    • There are things I tell myself when my faith is shaky about God’s goodness and His love that comfort me. But it would appear that these things aren’t a comfort to others in their time of need. I do know this mass exodus has made me sad though and I’m seeking to understand it.

    • I don’t mean to rude but you are using that verse entirely out of context, read all of Jeremiah 29 and you’ll see what I mean. God was talking to Isrealites out of bondage.

      • Exactly, Brady; that verse has been entirely misinterpreted and misappropriated to apply to current-day Christians’ personal lives.

  73. I never thought of things this way, thankx! If I thought Jesus were going to save me from tough times I’d probably be an athiest too. Looking at things from this point of view will help me in discussions in the future.

  74. Depends on how you define “wonderful”, doesn’t it?

    (What an odd time to summon up the image of Bill Clinton…)

    If I am predominately focused on my own happiness, or comfort, and I believe that Christianity is my means to help me achieve those goals, (and – bonus! – it will also protect me and mine from all harm) then, odds are good that that kind of faith is going to let me down.

    But do I believe that as a child of God, that there is a plan for my life? Well, yes, I do, in that I believe there are good works that God has prepared in advance for me/each of us to do. And they may have nothing to do with my own personal happiness or comfort: but they may, nonetheless, cause my life to be a “wonder-filled” thing.
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    • Tere are two parts of this “wonderful plan for your life” thing that are dangerous for believers.

      First, is how this plays into our own faith, but also how this plays into how we feel about, and then subsequently treat, the struggles of others.

      When someone is struggling, or in pain, or has had catastrophe strike them, how heavily invested is our faith in them maintaining the same faith as us for US to feel okay?

      We risk being one of Job’s Friends when our own anxiety and insecurities cloud our ability to see the pain of others.

      • Chloe, I agree. I am a Christian counselor, and so many of the folks that come in need a place away from their Christian support groups to have a real reaction to the circumstances of their life.

        • Leanne, thank you for stopping by and confirming what I’ve seen and felt myself.

          I somehow feel that we are all so deep-down frightened for our own faith that when someone else’s is shaken, it is us that can’t handle it. We want others to be okay so that our faith will be okay. That’s not right.

  75. Gosh, I love you, Chloe. I think you nailed it.

    While there wasn’t a single huge event that caused my ex-husband lose his faith, there were dozens of events both large and small that kept making him question it. He had done pretty much anything you can do to earn God’s favor (teach Sunday school, give away lots of money, act “nice”) but he didn’t feel like he was living out that “wonderful plan” that Jesus is supposed to give His followers. So, my ex emotionally gave up on God while trying to still appear to be a believer. Because he has a reputation as a fine, upstanding Christian Businessman to uphold, ya’ know.

    Jesus never promised a happy, easy life. Instead what Jesus REALLY said was: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Ouch.
    Elizabeth / Liza Lee recently posted..Six MonthsMy Profile

    • Having seen several devout believers walk completely away from faith altogether, I have to wonder what the connection is there?

      What do we do when God lets us so completely down? That’s hard enough, but then what happens to our faith when the other believers start pelting rocks at us?

      The social ramifications of admitting that we no longer believe are tremendous, especially in certain communities. It really is too bad because I think a season of unbelief doesn’t mean that a person will never return to a belief in God. But I don’t think anybody is helped by living a dishonest life.

      Jesus said that it was truth that would set us free.

  76. Bravo my dear.. wonderful post and SO very on the mark. When our son died to many in our extended homeschooling community this was because we were not Christian, and HAD we been this would not have happened. Again when one of our older son’s took us on Mr. Toads Wild drug-included ride with him, it was because we did not “know Jesus”.. ( For the record I am a very big fan of the historical Jesus, but not so much for the way his fan club acts most of the time).. But now that things are going to hell-in-a-handbasket for these folks who once denounced us they are falling apart in every direction, including their faith.. it is very hard to watch ( the homeschooling world for as big as it has gotten is still a very small social world at times).. can’t wait for the comments to roll in.

    • When a Christian’s faith is dependent on their life turning out perfectly, they are a slippery slope.

      This isn’t to say that my friends who have walked away from their faith based their life on this perfection.

      Today’s post is entirely about US, the people who still believe and how we treat those who are struggling.

      I got to to thinking about this after posting my Twilight threads and reading your husband’s post on resiliency.

      I can hear people in my head (who I know…I’m not talking about the “voices”…that’s an entirely different post. heh) not being very happy that I gave Edward the credit for pulling me out of depression instead of God.

      • Edward/God, who’s to say.. those words, that book were the right thing for you at the right time. When Gabe died I clung to a very tiny phrase, an idea from a story of Siddhartha ( the man who would come to be known as the Buddha- for those a bit loose on their knowledge of other religions).. In quick form the story deals with a cup of ceremonial tea that is dropped and the cup is shattered, the tea sinks into the earth. .. Yes, the cup (the body) is gone, but the tea (the soul) is not gone, it has just moved on to another location outside the cup. I resonate with this idea and it held me and still holds me steady when the pain of my loss threatens to be more than I can bare. Tea, cup, Edward, Twilight, God, each other, it is all part of the web of existence and I am happy enough with that.

        Maddie
        Maddie Kertay recently posted..Chocolate Place cards for your Thanksgiving TableMy Profile

  77. I love this part of Psalm 23 and have used it often when talking to people going through really hard times. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and your staff they comfort me.”

    God NEVER promised an easy, happy, prosperity everything rainbow life. But he did promise to be there when things got hard. We forget so easily forget that this world is not our home.

    Thanks for posting Chloe – well said.
    Miss Elaineous recently posted..Waiting…My Profile

    • Thanks for sharing this great Psalm of comfort. It feels like very cold comfort indeed when I’m in the darkness of the shadow and I know God could change my circumstances if He wanted to, but He doesn’t.

      This has caused me to seriously rethink how I praise God when my life is going well. Any good that has happened in my life has been serendipitous and is not a credit to my goodness or my great faith.

  78. Although I am going through a real hard time in my life caused by my immature wife I have not abandoned my faith in God and have found a new church and new friends and possibly a new love but I will not go for until I get divorced if I do! REMEMBER JOHN 3:16!