“Man plans and God laughs.” That’s a Yiddish proverb that most of us can relate to. When things don’t go as planned, our knee jerk reaction is often frustration, confusion, panic and insecurity. We forget that we are in the hands of our father God, even amid storms and trying situations.
So, if we can’t control our external circumstances, the solution is to change our internal disposition to be supernatural in the face of the unexpected. With this mindset shift, we remember or come to realise that “for those who love God, all things work together for the good.” (Romans 8:28).
“Let go and let God” is a catchy and attractive phrase – easier said than done. Letting go requires us to exercise the virtue of humility, which is not trusting in ourselves but placing all our confidence in God. Sometimes, this means that we need to stop planning our lives so meticulously and be detached from our own expectations. Humility is allowing ourselves to be surprised by God.
What does Jesus tell us about anxiety and worrying? “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’…your heavenly Father knows that you need them all…” Jesus concludes by saying, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.” (Matthew 6:25-34).
As a concrete example, when our Lord appointed the seventy, He encouraged them not to be concerned about their physical needs and to rely on His grace instead of their human strengths. Jesus said, “Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bad, no sandals…” (Luke 10:4). We could have only imagined how insecure and fearful the missionaries felt in that moment. Yet, we also are called to live this level of abandonment.
One way that we can embrace uncertainty and a change of plans is to remember that God has the big picture. All we can see is one piece of the puzzle. In the words of Zora Neale Hurston, “there are years that ask questions, and years that answer them.” Nothing is a coincidence. Divine providence is always working, even when we don’t see it.