God has a plan for your life.
You were created for a purpose.
God’s is working everything together for good.
What do these words evoke in your heart? Do you question their validity or do they make you want to stand up and shout, “I used to doubt that, but now I know it’s true!”
I’ve been in both places. I remember a friend telling me God wanted to heal the pain of my past and use what I’d experienced and learned to help me find His plans for my future. I didn’t want God to use the pain of my past. I wanted it to go away! I doubted it could make me better or stronger or do any good for anyone, especially me.
Doubt held me captive with these words: “Your life is meaningless. Look at all you’ve done (good or bad), and where it got you. God could never use you. There is no purpose to what you do. You’ve messed up too many times. You’re too ______ for anything good to come of your life.”
Doubting ourselves makes it hard to believe God’s truth. That’s why we’ve got to recognize doubt’s whispers as Satan’s lies. He uses doubt and insecurity to hold us as prisoners in the shadow of darkness where we feel defeated, isolated, paralyzed and purposeless.
But Jesus wants us to live in the power of God’s promise that He offers hope for our future despite the pain of our past.
He knows our past can actually help us find His plans for our future. That friend I mentioned earlier, her name is Wanda. She shared this truth with me while flipping through her Bible to the book of Jeremiah while we sat on the beach together over 20 years ago. I had just asked Wanda, “If God loves me so much, then why has He allowed so much pain in my life?” Her answer was Jeremiah 29:11.
I listened closely as she told me that God knows the plans He has for me, plans to give me a future filled with hope and not harm. I relished those words and then imagined in my mind what those plans might look like. I didn’t realized that if I wanted to know God’s plans, I had to read the premise that followed the promise.
“Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”v12-13
Sometimes it isn’t until we hit rock bottom or run into enough walls that we realize the plans God has for us are found when we surrender ours for His. As Jeremiah 29:11-13 explains, God’s plans unfold each time we come to Him, talk to Him and pause long enough to recognize He’s listening and He wants to respond.
I don’t think I really went to God and asked what His plans were. I wanted to go create a new, happy, minimal-pain-plan that was all tidy in a boxed up Christian life. But God had other plans.
God wanted to use the hard places in my past that I wanted to forget. I wanted to run from them but He wanted to lead me through them to His ultimate plans – plans for healing and wholeness. Plans for authenticity and redemption. Plans that would require me to deal with my doubts and overcome my insecurities with the power of His love.
As we go throughout our day our doubts will creep up, threatening to steal our sense of hope and purpose. But each time that happens, we can stop and seek Him in that place, moment by moment. We can ask Him to show us His purpose by revealing what is true about who we are and what we have been through to make us doubt ourselves, our purpose and His plans. We can ask Him to help us re-define our identity not through the filter of our circumstances and pain, but through the power of His healing grace and life-giving promises.
And you know what happens when we do that moment by moment, day by day, doubt by doubt? We find Him.
“I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity…” v14.
We find out He is the one Who can heal the pain of our past. He is the One who can bring beauty from our brokenness. He is the One who can lead us to freedom from the captivity of our doubts, insecurities and pain.
I know because I have walked it, wrestled with it, resisted it and finally surrendered to it. God’s Word is alive and active. It cuts to the core of our struggles and brings healing purpose to our pain. God’s ways are redemptive, using the lies of our past to reveal God’s truth and plans for our future!