Frustrated Plans

Wrecking Ball

“The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; He frustrates the plans of the peoples.” (Psalm 33:10)

A common theme in the Psalms is that God’s will is sovereign over all others. He has made the world and everything in it, and because of that He is in complete control of it. Nothing happens without His permission; it is His perfect will that always takes place. Psalm 33 is filled with the psalmist’s exultation of this fact, but it also takes the time to highlight a pivotal fact: God’s will is certainly perfect, but this often means that human wishes do not take place.

Imagine for a moment that you’re building a house. You’ve drawn the blueprints with meticulous detail, giving special attention to every room, every placement of furniture; if there’s something to be considered, you’ve gone over it multiple times, fine-tuning the building to perfection. As construction continues, you can’t help but take pride in your masterpiece. This will be such a wonderful place to live in! Then, just as the house is completed, out of nowhere a huge wrecking ball appears, heading straight for your beloved building. You plead with the wielder to stop, to just let the house stand. But the instrument of destruction continues its devastating course, slamming right into the precious house you’ve spent months working on.

Naturally, this event launches you into despair. All of that hard work has just been demolished by a single action, one that you had absolutely no control over. Perhaps you rage at the one who destroyed your house, demanding to know what on earth he could be thinking. But then he gives you a new blueprint, inviting you to work with him on it. After some hesitation, you agree. The work begins immediately, and although you may not be thrilled about it, after a while you start to have sneaking suspicions that just maybe this house is better than the one you’d planned. The hall of your old house was a little drafty, the doors would never shut properly, the electricity kept going out. This new house, however, has none of these problems. On top of that, it’s exactly what you were wanting. There were always a few little details that you just couldn’t figure out how to implement, but this blueprint has them all. By the time you’re finished with this house, you don’t feel the least bit remorseful about your old one. This one is what you were working for all the time without even knowing it.

Many times, this is how God is with our plans. His wishes are so much better than ours, but sometimes the only way to get us to see that is if He takes away the lesser thing we’re clinging so hard to. The psalmist chose a good word when he said that God “frustrates the plans of the people” (33:10). There are few things more infuriating than a beautiful plan coming to nothing. But if we choose to accept God’s will and work with Him on what He wants to do, we’ll slowly realize that what He wants is exactly what we need. He doesn’t destroy our dreams to make us miserable; He exchanges what will eventually hurt us for something that will give us great joy. As we continue to grow in God and follow His plans, we will be amazed at just how good He is at doing what’s right. As the psalmist concluded, “Our heart is glad in Him, because we trust in His holy name.” (33:21)

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