When the Pain of My Past Makes Me Question God’s Plans for My Future

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!

Psalm 139:16 says, “You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed” (NLT).
About Renee

Renee Swope is a Word-lover, story-teller, heart-encourager and grace-needer. She's also a wife, mom, friend, daughter and author of A Confident Heart, a Retailers Choice Award winning book that became a best-seller and has been published in six languages, with over 150,000 copies sold. Renee is speaks around the country at women's events and and serves on the writing team for DaySpring’s inCourage blog. For twenty years, Renee served in leadership at Proverbs 31 Ministries and as former co-host of the ministry's radio program, “Everyday Life with Lysa & Renee.

Comments

  1. Awesome post! Just what I needed today (and proabably everyday!)

  2. walking with you "moment by moment, day by day, doubt by doubt." love you, friend.

    xoxo lisa

  3. Renee,

    Tank you for reminding me of all God as brougt me out of! I needed te reminder of Wo God is at tis time! I ave been giving in to flesy eartly fear tat we wont raise enoug money for our upcoming travel to get Jeremia. ow silly of me. If te God of te universe loves me ten I ave NOTING to fear! E brougt me troug so muc, E can do tis too! Keep posting tese good nuggets of gold girl!

    Blessings,
    Tami
    PRAYING JERMIAh home Quickly
    http://www.tillGodbringsthemhome.blogspot.com

  4. Love this line from your post:
    "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."

    You had asked not too long ago on Facebook what God had been saying to us recently…you know, where you keep hearing the same thing over and over and know He is talking right to you. What you said in the quote above goes right along what He has been saying to me this year…"seek ME first."

    What you said encourages me so in that it is AS I seek Him that I discover who He desires and has designed me to be.

    Pressing in,
    K 🙂

  5. Right now instead of asking God what is His plans for me, it is learning to throw God's word at the enemy when he tries to stir that doubt.
    I still have questions as to what God is doing in our lives.

  6. Great post Renee! It is a process, I feel like I'm in the middle of that wrestling match you described. Thanks for sharing and reminding me of the only way to win…
    Blessings,
    Jill

  7. Thank you for always being so open and honest about your struggles. I've had the priviledge of watching how God has used your stories in such a powerful way to transform so many women's lives for His Glory and their good.
    Love you much,
    Leah

  8. Beautiful post Renee! Your post points out to me exactly what I need to do, "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
    Thank God that through you I am reminded and it is so simple. Please pray for me to follow his instructions. Love you friend, Kelly

  9. Anonymous says:

    I cannot begin to tell you just how much I needed this today. I was on my lunch hour and decided to check and see if you had changed the blog for today. Now that Im in tears and not just feeling but knowing by confirmation that God has a awesome plan for my life. I have had to learn that what happened to me as a little girl does not dictate my destiny. I want my life to give God glory and honor. Thank you for this blog today because I feel so uplifted and encouraged. I thank God for you and your obedience to submitt to God and his will for your life.

  10. Great post Renee. I can't tell you how many times I have looked to Jeremiah 29:11, hung onto that promise, but failed to look past it to the following verses.

    How powerful!

    Thanks for sharing.

    Connie

  11. Renee….My little sister!!! Our heart beats to the same DRUMMER my friend!!
    Imagine Me..Set Free!!
    Peace with the Past
    Purpose in the Present
    Passion for the Future!!!
    Praise His Precious Name!!!
    I love you dearly!!!!

  12. "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."

    Oh Renee, this is exactly where God has me right now. He is walking me through some difficult pathways, but He is with me, and with Him, I am going to make it.

    Thanks for this timely encouragement. God is good, all the time!
    Hugs, love and prayers,
    Joy

  13. Thank you for posting this today. I have recently begun to use my past pains to move me towards His future plans for my life.

  14. Your posts are such a gift…thank you Renee. You said, "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", & I just want to comment on how you wanted to run from your mistakes/poor choices BUT God wants to lead us through them. MAN!! That is such a powerful truth & oh how we want to run for the hills when accountability rears its head. Allowing God to guide us through our past & all its disgraces is what gives your heart a deeper understanding of God's unfailing love towards you. How can you realize His love if you do not realize how deep His grace is towards you? Allowing God to walk me through my past & opening my heart to receive His perspective & correction has enabled me to grow, forgive & love. Oh man…..I could not do those 3 things with out first taking account of where I had been, what it caused, how far from God those choices took me & how it hurt others & myself.

    Thank you for your post & thank you for giving me an opportunity to speak.

    In Christ, Pam K.

  15. Thank you sweet friends for sharing this part of the journey with me. I am praying for each of you as I read your comments and thoughts. God is using you encourage my heart in so many ways. You give me an even broader perspective of all that He wants to do in each of our lives!

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  18. Renee,
    Thank you for this post. I love the words from Jeremiah 29:11 and the reminder that it is a daily, hourly and sometimes minute by minute struggle to deveat and deflect the work of Satan in our lives. I have had a tough week. Been unemployed for over a year, working some temp jobs, and found out that I didn't get 2 different full time jobs I interviewed for recently. Sometimes I feel like God made a mistake when he made me — why can't I be stronger, bolder, less emotional? And then I read something like your post that contains truths from God's word and I am encouraged again. Pray for me in my job search.

    E.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Approvingly your article helped me very much in my college assignment. Hats afar to you post, intention look ahead for the duration of more interrelated articles soon as its sole of my favourite issue to read.

  20. Me, again. 🙂 Was thinking about purpose today and thought of you and your post. Here is where I get stuck…feeling lost in a sea of other people who have great purpose. Stopping and thinking, "Who am I amongst all of these?"

    Just have to keep speaking truth to my heart and holding onto the truth of His Word. He has plans for me, too. Good plans. God plans!

    Encouraging myself in the Lord today…and every day for that matter!
    K

  21. Kimberly, I sometimes struggle with the exact same feeling. I think we all do – it's just a matter of who we compare ourselves to that may be just a little ahead of us in their calling. Believe me, almost ever time I work on my book I wonder, "Who am I to write a book. There are so many amazing authors out there who teach me so much! Why can't I just sell and promote their books?" But then God whispers, "Because I have called you to speak and write of the story I am telling through your life." I have a feeling, He says the same things to each us!

    Thanks for being so honest. I love that about you!

    Renee

  22. Wow, I really needed this today! I stumbled across your blog and am so thankful that I did! Thanks for helping us grow closer to Him through your ministry! You are truly a gift!

  23. All things work together for the good of those who love God. And by all things we can infer even our darkest, most sorrowful hours. Life is not all comfort and happiness, but that doesn't mean it could never be beautiful and blessed 🙂

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