This is a repost of an article I wrote in October 2017. It is one of my more popular posts, and something I need reminded of on occasion.
“Many years ago, five missionaries ventured out to share the Good News of Jesus with a vicious tribe of people. Their plane was to fly into a remote area where tribesmen had not heard of the love of Jesus and to build relationships with the tribesmen. Yet when their plane landed on the remote river setting, things went terribly wrong.”
Perhaps this story is familiar to you. The words, penned by Tricia Goyer in her book Balanced: Finding Center as a Work-at-Home Mom, speak of Operation Auca in 1956. Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Ed McCully, Peter Fleming, and Roger Youderian wanted to tell the Huaorani people of Ecuador about Jesus. Yet they were slaughtered by tribesmen before the missionaries got the first words of love out.
How can something like this be part of God’s best plan?
When Things Go Wrong
May we not make it more difficult for Thee to guide us, but be willing to be led of Thee that Thy will may be done in us and through us for the good of America and all mankind. ~Peter Marshall
Often, we look at tragedy and can’t see anything good.
- Children with terminal illness or unexpected death
- A mother dying in childbirth
- Cancer, heart attacks, and other diseases
- Hurricanes, earthquakes, and fires
- Harsh dictators
- Terrorist attacks
We could add to the list based on the latest news reports or your collective experiences, and these often horrific situations overwhelm. Truly, when we face these moments in life, we need to allow ourselves time to mourn and find a new normal.
But as the cloud of grief lifts, we must wrestle with God’s plan. We must fight through questions like:
- Was this God’s plan?
- Did God have a plan?
- Did God even notice or does He care?
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This sounds a bit trite, but the truth is we can’t see the bigger picture.
Oh, I don’t like that.
I want to understand. I want God to point out the good in a missionary’s brutal death or a child’s terrible diagnosis. Why must my husband battle chronic pain or people suffer a cruel leader?
But often, God offers us little more than He gave Job.
Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge?
Looking for the Silver Lining
I don’t want to base my theology on Pollyanna thinking, but we also can’t wallow in despair. If we go back to the missionaries who landed in Ecuador in the 1950s, what positive results can we see from their horrible outcome?
1. God doesn’t give up.
The tribesmen did all they knew to scare away the outsiders. Yet God wanted their hearts. He orchestrated events that would lead one wife and one sister of the five men killed back to the tribe.
2. The missionaries affected far more than just a few people in one tribe.
As Tricia Goyer points out, “These missionaries had no idea that years after those tribesmen slaughtered them on the beach millions of people would know their story, and the story of how their widows then brought the Gospel to the tribe, transforming them for Christ, and moviegoers would be hearing their message over and over again. It was more than they could have ever imagined. Their work—though not what they expected—was not in vain.”
[Tweet “We can’t wallow in despair.”]
God is in control and God is good. Even when it doesn’t look like it. ~Carrie Daws, The Warrior’s Bride
When things go wrong, God is still present, active, and working for the good of His people. Even when it doesn’t look or feel like it, and most especially when things go horribly wrong.
I share more of the story of my husband’s health problems in The Warrior’s Bride, and the hope I’ve found in spite—or maybe because—of them.
The call came down from Command, and your warrior husband is out the door, leaving you behind to handle whatever he has left undone. Whether it’s the day-to-day monotony, the inevitable appliance that breaks, or the months without his presence beside you, being a military spouse brings challenges few appreciate. Yet God sees you and longs for you to boldly step into His plan. He purposely chose you for this moment—for your man. He wants to give you abundantly more than what you have right now and desires you to thrive as your warrior’s bride.