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Mom'sWrite
01-28-2008, 06:44 AM
If you have visited the Prayer Request thread in the last few months than you probably know that my husband is gravely ill after a serious motorcycle accident last November. This event has been life-altering for all of us and as such has come along with questions and re-evaluations in tow.

Here's one that has been keeping me awake nights...

How do you know that there is A Plan?

and its corollaries...

In the face of human tragedy and suffering, how do know that the Plan is essentially benevolent? Could it be that we are merely afraid of the dark and we sleep so much better believing that we are protected from what is truly malevolent by participating in the Plan?

Doesn't the existence of a Plan interfere with free will?

If we have free will can we opt out of the Plan?

If we are merely reacting to planned events are those reactions part of the plan too?

There are more, but I'm sure that you get the picture. During this nightmare I can't count the number of people that have told me that I shouldn't worry because this is all part of a Plan. (I deliberately did not put this thread in the Christian forum because not every one who mentioned the Plan to me was Christian.) Although they assure me of the Plan's existence no one has been able to tell me how they know if that's true. I need to understand this concept because it is so pervasive and I need your help to do that.

So, if you believe in the Plan please explain how it works.

(If you don't believe that there is a Plan, please don't respond below. If you must type the words "There's no Plan" send it to me via PM. I'm not interested in a great philosophical debate so much as an opportunity to understand this experience.)

Why, in a world where we expect life to behave according to certain rules and laws that make sense (if I drop my coffee cup it falls down and not up), we don't expect that same sense from our Creator's behavior or Plan?

I appreciate any responses.

Silver King
01-28-2008, 06:52 AM
...(If you don't believe that there is a Plan, please don't respond below. If you must type the words "There's no Plan" send it to me via PM. I'm not interested in a great philosophical debate so much as an opportunity to understand this experience.)...
I want to highlight this part now in case anyone missed it the first time.

Joycecwilliams
01-28-2008, 08:31 AM
If you have visited the Prayer Request thread in the last few months than you probably know that my husband is gravely ill after a serious motorcycle accident last November. This event has been life-altering for all of us and as such has come along with questions and re-evaluations in tow.
Sorry, I did not know about your husband, and I am sorry you are going through this.




Here's one that has been keeping me awake nights...

How do you know that there is A Plan?

I know there is a plan from past events. Events that at the time, I felt were the worst thing that could happen. And it was at the time, I have had a lot of tragedies in my life. Too many to go into here. But when I look back at loses, disapointments, setbacks, etc. I can see where the plan works, and cetain rare instances why it worked. Here is just a small example of where I saw a glimpse of the plan.

When we were moving to New England, my husband was in one car and I was in another with our daughters ages 3 and 1 month old. We were leaving at night so the kids would sleep for most of trip. Prior to us going on the road my husband told me. "Follow right behind me. Your headlights are like a lot of other cars." This was important advice to me because I did not the way to our new home.

About 1/4 mile from the George Washington Bridge, my car died. My husband had already gone through the toll booth. I was in the middle of the turnpike (or whatever busy road it was) with no lights on my vehicle, pouring rain, and babies in car with me. I didn't want to leave them, but I couldn't take them out in the pouring rain in the midst of traffic either. It was frightening. Especially with all the 18 wheelers flying by.

Luckily my husband noticed I wasn't behind him and returned to where I was broken down. We moved the kids into his car and we had to push my car through the toll booth before we could get it fixed. Finally we were back on the road, only to hit a traffic jam for miles and miles, and miles. (Yes this was the trip from hell). Come to find out there was a fatal car accident right in the place we would have been if the car hadn't broken down. My husband and I talked about the plan that night and believe me, he is not the spiritual type, but he saw it.

But most of the times the plan isn't that evident and may not be for years or maybe never revealed.





and its corollaries...

I am not sure what you are asking here.


In the face of human tragedy and suffering, how do know that the Plan is essentially benevolent? Could it be that we are merely afraid of the dark and we sleep so much better believing that we are protected from what is truly malevolent by participating in the Plan?

I don't know if the plan is meant to instantly benevolent. If you read the book of Job he had terrible trials and tribulations. He lost everything, including his health. Even Job's wife told him to curse God, but he didn't. And God gave him what he lost and more.



Doesn't the existence of a Plan interfere with free will? No it doesn't. You always have free will and the plan isn't written in stone that it cannot be changed. It isn't like your a robot being controlled by a remote control. God hears all prayers, but sometimes the answer is no.

If we have free will can we opt out of the Plan? You can opt out, but God doesn't.

If we are merely reacting to planned events are those reactions part of the plan too? Again the robot thing. Every action causes a reaction.


There are more, but I'm sure that you get the picture. During this nightmare I can't count the number of people that have told me that I shouldn't worry because this is all part of a Plan. (I deliberately did not put this thread in the Christian forum because not every one who mentioned the Plan to me was Christian.) Although they assure me of the Plan's existence no one has been able to tell me how they know if that's true. I need to understand this concept because it is so pervasive and I need your help to do that.

So, if you believe in the Plan please explain how it works.

(If you don't believe that there is a Plan, please don't respond below. If you must type the words "There's no Plan" send it to me via PM. I'm not interested in a great philosophical debate so much as an opportunity to understand this experience.)

I hope my answers helped you. I will pray for you.


Why, in a world where we expect life to behave according to certain rules and laws that make sense (if I drop my coffee cup it falls down and not up), we don't expect that same sense from our Creator's behavior or Plan?

Just as a 3 year can not understand why they can't have cookies for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, we can't understand God's intelligence which is far superior to ours. We get our understanding from life experience and our experience is a piddence of God's who has lived for Ions.


Your pain is evident and I am truly sorry I can not reach out and hug you. Although I cannot understand all that you have been through, I do understand tragedy. Take care of yourself.

Pat~
01-28-2008, 08:33 AM
Oh Carol, I've been thinking about you so much these past few weeks. Anyone who's been through tragedy wrestles with those same questions. And I'm not sure if I'd be able to answer them definitively for you, to be honest--I can only share with you what I believe--based on what I've experienced in my own life of faith (and sometimes faithlessness), and based on what I understand of God's workings down through history.

I believe that sin, and all of its accompanying pain, grief, and trauma, were never part of God's original and perfect plan. But, the capacity for man to sin has always been there (because man was created in God's image, and so had free will). And after man freely chose to disobey God, sin entered that perfect world and has contaminated it ever since. Yet, from all eternity, God has had the foreknowledge that this would take place, and in Christ provided a way to finally trump sin and death. He is our Redeemer. His death and resurrection secured a victory over sin and death; not that we don't experience illness and death, but that we can experience spiritual victory and life even in the midst of them.

Regarding God's Plan...I don't think, first of all, that you can grapple with that without an understanding that we live in a dimension of Time that differs from God's. We operate under a linear timetable that includes past, present, and future. God is eternal, and operates within a infinite, somewhat indefinable time dimension.

Secondly, and because of this, you have to come to terms with the fact that you will never be able to humanly understand (completely) the interplay between man's free will and the sovereignty of God. Paradoxically, both are at play simultaneously; it's like mixing two liquids--you can't point exactly to where one starts and the other ends.

But however the specific details of our lives play out, one overriding thing IS God's plan for each of us--that we be conformed to the image of His Son, thereby bringing God glory. (Romans 8:28, 29; see also 2 Corinthians 3:18-4:18). The 'glory of God' doesn't sound like much of a plan to many of us, but this is the 'plan' outlined in the Bible. And, interestingly, it is a plan that can succeed in spite of any of the circumstances of our lives at any given time.

I guess the hard part of accepting this as God's ultimate plan for our lives is that it'd be far more agreeable to us if His plan were all about our earthly health, wealth, and happiness. But God has eternal plans for us; our temporal life is just a blip in the scope of eternity. Our earthly life is the medium where He uses the events of our lives to reveal Himself to us so that we can know Him personally, as well as to accomplish His purposes in a larger scale. And, as hard as it is to comprehend, while I don't believe God is the author of evil, sometimes the bad stuff of life is specifically used to accomplish this. And as God reveals Himself to you, you grow to love Him so completely, that His glory becomes your goal as well; that's how we can experience deep peace even in desperate circumstances.

An example of this is the story of Joseph in the Old Testament (last part of Genesis). Joseph is sold by his brothers into slavery in Egypt, then wrongly accused and thrown into prison. But in the last chapter of Genesis, when Joseph's brothers are afraid that Joseph will kill them out of retribution, Joseph says to them, "Don't be afraid...you meant this for evil, but God meant it for good, to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." God's working in Joseph's life (interpreting dreams while in prison in Egypt, then interpreting Pharoah's dreams) preserved the race of Israel and the line of Judah, through whom the Messiah would one day come. This was much bigger than just Joseph's life. Joseph saw part of the big picture; he could see how the events in his life preserved a nation from famine. But even Joseph had no idea that the events of his life would affect the generations of people who would later know the Messiah because of the interplay of events of his life. I sometimes wish we could know what his thoughts were while he was in slavery, or in prison. I know when we're in the middle of 'hell' it can be near impossible to have that kind of faith. I think when we're in the depths we're more apt to question and even rail at God--like Job did. And I think that's okay.

Not sure if that addressed your questions, but I guess it's a start. It'll be interesting to read this thread.

Shady Lane
01-28-2008, 10:22 AM
I am not telling you that there is not a plan. I'm telling you that I don't know. But that I do, honestly believe that things fall together in a way that works. Whether this works for a religious reason or a scientific equilibrium-type one, I don't know. Whether it works in my head or on paper or for anyone, I don't know. But the reason I'm posting is because I know that you will get through this. It might not be happy or easy and it probably won't be beautiful, but....from one person having doubts to another, I want you to know that I understand and that it will be okay. It will be okay because it has to be okay, whether because there's a Plan or because you are a strong person and it is your duty to God or yourself or your husband to get out of bed everyday. Because it is not as easy as you might think to actually, really check out. Out of The Plan. Out of anything.

akiwiguy
01-28-2008, 12:25 PM
Firstly Mom’sWrite, I wasn’t aware of that and I’m really sorry that you have to go through this.

If you think about the meaning of the word plan, it is that we are doing things now for some benefit for the future. Whether or not some deity is also involved is of course of great debate and depends on our own religious or spiritual persuasions. So putting that aside for a moment, I think there is a plan simply because humans have the capacity to envisage a better future, and to do things that might in some small way realise that vision. A cynic might say that in reality our future will be meaningless, but I would argue why then do we have this capacity to even dream of something from afar, and furthermore I’d suggest it is a matter of our own free will as to whether we want to contribute in some small way towards that dream, or not.

If I think about yourself, your husband, your family and all of the people within your sphere of influence, you are inevitably part of the plan because you were born into the human race. You’ve loved people, helped people, and taught people... that mark is indelible. It can’t be erased because everything sets forth ripples that somehow extend into the future. I have influenced my children, whose own lives influence the others around them and will influence their own children, and so on. But my whole point is that only a lunatic would hope for a worse outcome a few generations on than exists now. We hope for, and perhaps if we choose to do so also strive for, a better future. By definition that is a plan.

Why do we love, nurture, and teach others? Normally because we want them to grasp what we have and possibly use their gifts to increase and build on what we have given them. It’s man’s inherent capacity to have that desire. We don’t have to use it, but we can choose to if we wish. So what’s the point? Well if there wasn’t a plan bigger than me there wouldn’t be any point at all. I won’t be alive to see the consequences. But I’ll still be part of it and can’t avoid that. And we see evidence all the time of ourselves and others doing things that are not for our benefit, but for some future outcome that we may not even see.

Do I think your husband’s accident was pre-ordained as part of some grand plan? Personally no, and I’d go further and say that I think it quite cruel and illogical that this would be the case. That is only my opinion. We find ourselves in situations that may be in part be as a result of luck or bad luck and in part because of good or bad decisions. But a plan is about what we do now, and that in turn influences the future. How you choose to adapt now, which must be terribly difficult, is still going to one day form part of that bigger picture. I know it is glib and simple to say, but great human qualities can arise out of suffering. It doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t have been more desirable to never have to face this, but we adapt, maybe love more, and maybe find some new quality we’d never seen in ourselves before.

One way or another we will end up part of the plan. In my mind it is like some great tapestry laid back through history, and I will be a tiny woven fragment in it. A fragment connected to the whole.

Where the hell did that come from? It made sense to me momentarily. Phew, time for a coffee.

Finni
01-28-2008, 06:14 PM
The Plan is to experience life. Think of a video game. There are many different ways a player can finish the game. He can choose to make many different moves in the game. The outcome and what happens during the game isn't planned, but it is planned for....as in 'just in case the player chooses to go this way, this will happen.' The player has the choice, and the maker of the game provides results...or effects...for those moves the player chooses.
The only plan is to experience it. Sight. Sound. Smell. Touch. Taste. Love. Fear. Etc.

This is my opinion. I have had too much tragedy in my life to accept it was all planned. if that is the case I hope God erases my Being from ever existing again, because I do not want to be part of a cosmos that 'plans' for my best friend's suicide, or a drunk driver killing my 19 year old brother, or genocide...the list can go on. If these are planned events then this is a cruel frickin God ...

I don't think the mover and the shaker, the alpha and omega of this cosmos is cruel though...nothing is planned except to experience life (whatever that will bring us).

Gehanna
01-28-2008, 06:48 PM
I had been trying to get God to reveal his "plan" to me, for my life, for several years.

He said, "I have no secret from you. Read my word. There is my plan. What you do with the life I gave you, from there, is in your hand."

Panic :eek:

I said, "Here, please take it. I can't handle it on my own."

Sincerely,
Gehanna