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Plan B

January 15, 2017
Valley of the shadow of death (1855), Photo by Roger Fenton, Library of Congress (Reproduction No. LC-DIG-ppmsca-35546) (PD)

“The valley of the shadow of death” (1855), Photo of Crimean War by Roger Fenton, Library of Congress (Reproduction No. LC-DIG-ppmsca-35546) (PD)

“For the resolutions of the just depend rather on the grace of God than on their own wisdom; and in Him they always put their trust, whatever they take in hand.  For man proposes, but God disposes; neither is the way of man in his own hands.”

– Of the Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis (c. 1425)

There are those who will loudly proclaim we have only to ask for God’s blessing on our plans to see them fulfilled [1].  I am not among these.

Those who hear God audibly or on a regular schedule have led very different lives from mine.  I do not doubt their experience; I do not contest their claims.  I can only say that some of us have known the valley of the shadow [2].


Despite the best of intentions, despite the most sincere prayers, we may start out with Plan A only to find the road impassable, our way blocked.  To our surprise, we learn that God has Plan B in mind for our development.

How we respond will determine our progress on the path toward sanctification.


The Apostle Paul understood that his mission was ultimately to witness in Rome (Acts 23: 11).  But during his ministry Paul was shipwrecked at least four times, stoned, beaten three times with rods, and five different times received 40 lashes (2 Cor. 11: 23-28).

Surely, the will of the Almighty was not thwarted when these events occurred.  One must assume that these “detours” were part of God’s plan – events subject to what some term His permissive will, if not His perfect will (Rom. 12: 2) [3] [4].  They have served as inspiration to the faithful for the past 2000 years.

At great personal risk, Corrie ten Boom and her family courageously aided Jews in escaping the Holocaust.  Corrie, also, watched her beloved sister, Betsie, die in a concentration camp.

Surely, that was not the outcome this great woman of faith would have chosen, either for her sister or herself.  Yet Corrie ten Boom continued to trust her life to God.

God’s Silence

Many of us have longed for God’s voice, and His direction for our lives.  Most of us have cried out to Him in our distress.

We may occasionally have been tone deaf; may have overlooked the signs.  But that was not for lack of trying.  God is, at times, simply silent.  He may choose not to reveal His plans to us, or choose not to reveal them in all their fullness.

This does not mean that He is absent from our lives.

Looking to God

“If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed.  If you look within, you’ll be depressed.  But if you look at Christ, you’ll be at rest.”

-Corrie ten Boom

If we look outward to the world, the list of things capable of distressing and discouraging us is virtually endless.  That is the danger.

Discouragement can paralyze us.  Whatever the problem, it will seem monumental – far beyond anything we can overcome, in our small strength.  And that may be an accurate assessment, in human terms.

But whatever the problem, it is not beyond God’s strength.  Our despair is groundless.

Our Part

That God can move mountains does not relieve us of doing our part.  What He requires of us may well involve sacrifice and suffering.

None of this is to suggest that God abandons us in the valley.  Regardless of how long we may be there, He is our consolation.  If Plan B is God’s will for our lives, we can rely on His promise to walk by our side.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me…” (Ps. 23: 4).

[1]  This sentiment is derived from Verse 3 of Proverbs 16 GNT:  “Ask the Lord to bless your plans, and you will be successful in carrying them out.”  However, it does not take into account the fact our will must first be conformed to His.

[2]  The round objects in the photo (above) are cannon balls.

[3]  Romans 12: 2 reads:  “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

[4]  It is not my desire to engage in a debate over the various aspects of God’s will.  An excellent exposition can, however, be found at “Can you help me understand God’s perfect will versus His permissive will?”  A lesson by Pastor Deffinbaugh on discerning God’s will can be found at “20. Wisdom and the Will of God”


From → Christian, Faith, Religion

  1. Denzil - Life Sentences permalink

    Well said/wrote. Thank you. God can be silent but not absent – very helpful

    • Thanks, Denzil. Of course, God’s silence doesn’t always feel helpful. Suppose you were a soldier at war, far from home. You’d want a letter from your wife. If you loved and trusted her, you might not be overly worried by an interval of silence — what w/ the censors, and all. But you’d want a letter, nonetheless.

      You’d remember your wife’s beauty and her kindness. You’d remember what a good mother she was to your children. When your wife’s letter did arrive, you’d be overjoyed. If anything, the interval would have increased your appreciation of her.

      I think that’s how it is w/ God’s silence. Our longing for Him is sharpened.



  2. Thank you – our experiences of God are all different, but of one thing we can be sure: He has it all in hand. Blessings

  3. Plan B is a way of life for me. God has taught me a lot by not letting me have what I wanted.

  4. Or another way to look at it is this: what we think is God’s plan “B” was actually His plan “A” for us all along. It just takes us a little while to get on board sometimes.😉

  5. I love your words, thoughts, as always, Anna. I recently heard a pastor say that while it’s good to tell God our dreams, wishes, wants, goals–it is wise to not hold the “details” (our plan) too tightly; rather, allow God room to work, trusting He always gives us His Best. I have run ahead of Him often enough to know that disappointment usually results 🙂 God bless you–xxoo, stella

  6. Anna this is very insightful and encouraging for those of us in plan b right now! But is there a plan c or d?

    • I think there are plans we cannot grasp, Nicodemas. Not only can God see the whole span of our lives. God operates across generations, across eons.

      When He promised Abraham a son, God knew already that the people He would call His own would be held captive in Egypt for 400 years (Gen. 15: 13); He knew already that there would be a Holocaust. There must have been righteous people during those 400 years (people living Plan B, so to speak) who wondered where God was and why He did not liberate them. Yet their very presence in Egypt was a witness to the Egyptians. There were surely righteous people put to death in the Holocaust, people who may have felt that God abandoned them. Yet God used that tragedy as leverage to establish the modern state of Israel.

      That at least is how it seems to me. These events may have had greater impact still. The angels, we know, watch the working out of mankind’s redemption with interest (1 Peter 1: 12).

      God’s will takes into account “our ignorance, our weakness, or sins, and even the sins of others against us,” as Pastor Deffinbaugh puts it (Gen. 50:20). That is my view. Of course, we see now only through a glass darkly (1 Cor. 13: 12).

      In the end, it comes down to trust. We may never understand God’s full plan, not in this life. But we know that our lives are in the best possible hands.

      • Yes, you are right I believe, I can see that. But there are times when our glass is darker than at other times. For me particular tragedies over a period of time do not really make us stronger, they can be so brutal that we are almost destroyed internally. But even in those cases perhaps we are made stronger without realizing it, and as you’ve said, it is always a matter of trust. One of my favorite stories from the Old Testament is the account of Joseph. I can relate to him in many ways. Peace and thank you again for your thoughtful response.

      • I am not a great believer in Nietzsche (“What does not kill us, makes us stronger”). There is no question in my mind that we can be broken by circumstance. Certainly, I have been. Christ, Himself, sweated blood in the Garden of Gethsemane before submitting to the Father’s will.

        Trials do not make us stronger. In a worldly sense, they may harden us — inure us to pain. What trials do is strengthen our faith. Spiritually, they teach us to cling to God. The Apostle John said, “He must increase; I must decrease” (John 3: 30). Our worldly goals and desires become less important to us than pleasing God, and seeing His will for our lives accomplished.

        I love the account of Joseph, too. Joseph was unjustly imprisoned for years, you will remember. He could easily have thought himself abandoned by God. Yet Joseph emerged w/ his faith strengthened.

      • Thank you Anna, yes I agree with your thoughts here. I’m grateful for insights and encouragement. I’ll be sharing this my wife. Peace my friend.

  7. Beautifully written. The world’s devastation is endless as you mention, but in there is the hope God has planted. We might not see it evidenced as you stated which is often frustrating, but he is always there. A great reminder.

  8. tabitha59reachingout permalink

    You are right, Anna. What it all comes down to is that we learn how to trust God in the dark times. I have been extremely blessed to have had a handful of “wow” experiences with God, and they have held me fast when it often seemed like everything else had fallen apart. God bless you for your excellent messages.

    • Thank you, Debbie. Like you, I am just feeling my way. ❤

      • tabitha59reachingout permalink

        You have been through FAR more than I have, Anna. My heart goes out to you. Hugs.:)

      • I don’t think there’s a calculus of suffering. We all have a cross to bear. When I look around, I always feel the burdens others carry are far greater than my own. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble…” (2 Cor. 1: 3-4). ❤

      • tabitha59reachingout permalink

        I suppose you are right. Where would we be without Jesus? He is everything! Hugs. 🙂

  9. I think that there are more questions than answers, as a very good friend said to me when we were discussing some of life’s big questions. Here on our earthly path there is pain and suffering and terrible cruelty, and in many cases meted out by those who we expect to love and care for us. We will never know why this happens, but what we do know is: “these things will pass”. Me personally, I believe Plan B is what we do with the effects of the suffering. We (if we survive) can with the help of God understand that suffering in our own lives can be the catalyst for trying to make the lives of others better in someway. The author is a great example of this.

  10. The “human me” always thinks my plan A will work. But I fail every single time and realize that God’s plan (plan B) is my only option.💞

  11. Anna, you never fail to uplift my spirit, clear my mind, and restore my heart. Which all adds up to my soul. I guess that’s the message. You are listening to the holy Spirit.

  12. Plan B’s abound in constant threat of our defeat…
    Yet through it all, our all-knowing/unshaken God remains
    with us… And we learn to trust in Jesus! ❤ 💜 Jackie@KWH

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