When God Thwarts Your Plans...What then?

One morning I was praying for a friend whose plans were divinely thwarted. Everything was turned topsy-turvy within the space of a day. As I was praying that she would be comforted and trust the Lord in her new set of challenging circumstances, Psalm 33:10-11 came to mind, “The Lord nullifies the counsel of the nations; He frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart from generation to generation.”

Psalm 33:10-11 makes it clear that the Lord sovereignly orchestrates the details of our lives—even our changes in plans. Look at the wording for verse 10, “The Lord nullifies the counsel of the nations; He frustrates the plans of the peoples.” Oh my. I’m sure you’ve lived this before! This is when God’s Word intersects with real-life. You know how this is: you have a perfectly planned out day, in fact, you love your plan for the day for its perfect balance of efficiency and creativity, and then in a moment, one brick in the day’s construction is removed and everything changes.

Why would God do that? Why would God frustrate your perfectly planned day?

Psalm 33:11 explains it: “The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart from generation to generation.” Do you see it? God frustrates our plans and nullifies our counsel when our plans don’t match His plans. The counsel of the nations can be nullified, but God’s counsel stands forever. The plans of the peoples can be frustrated, but God’s plans, the plans of His heart, stand from generation to generation. This means that God, in His perfect wisdom, before we were even born had a plan for our days, even this specific day. Isaiah marveled at this truth too when he said in Isaiah 25:1, “O Lord, You are my God; I will exalt You, I will give thanks to Your name; For You have worked wonders, plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness.”

I don’t know about you, but when I have my perfect plan for the day all ready to be put into place and then it gets thwarted, I can get pretty anxious, in fact, I can get grumbly and fearful and pouty! So when my friend’s plans were thwarted I began praying that she wouldn’t be fearful or anxious in God’s new plan for her weekend.

Understanding Psalm 33:10-11 changes how I respond when God reveals His long-formed plans for me that are radically different than mine. Just think about it for a minute. If God wisely and lovingly planned the events of my life from long ages past, then there really is no reason for me to strive to “fix” things or worry about how all the details are going to work out for the God of the universe has considered every option and lovingly oversees the execution of His plans for me.

There’s no need to strive or worry.

So then what? What does the Lord require of me if it’s not to frantically scramble to put my straw house back together? Micah 6:8 answers that question perfectly, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

What? No panicked restructuring? No harried phone calls? No complaining about the “trials” of the day? Instead, all God wants is that we walk humbly with Him, that we pay attention to things that are important to Him? Wow. God’s ways are not like my ways (Isaiah 55:8-9)!

Deuteronomy 10:12-13 tells us more of the same, “Now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require from you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the Lord’s commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good?” Yes, it’s true that when God changes the plans for your day or weekend—or year—there may need to be some organizing and planning, but it’s so good to remember how God really wants us to respond during those times. He’s looking for a trusting, believing heart; a childlike confidence in our good God, and a quietness of spirit amid the change.

Psalm 33 ends with this encouragement from verses 18-22: “Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope for His lovingkindness, to deliver their soul from death and to keep them alive in famine. Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. For our heart rejoices in Him, because we trust in His holy name. Let Your lovingkindness, O Lord, be upon us, according as we have hoped in You.”

Lord, help us to remember that You see every part of our lives. You know every detail, every hope, every thing we hope to accomplish in our day. May You frame our hearts to wait upon You—even when You thwart our plans. Help us to respond in trust and peace rather than frustration. Let us rejoice in Your good plans for us. Amen.