IS GOD’S PLAN GOOD? (Even when it entails suffering.)

ISAIAH 53:10-11:But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants. He will enjoy a long life, and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in his hands. When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins.” NLT‬‬

OBSERVATION: Is God’s plan always good? Can I fully trust Him to work everything in my life toward a good end? How should I view God’s plan when I am in the midst of suffering?

Isaiah chapter 53 is one of the most powerful and difficult chapters in the Bible. It outlines the suffering and pain that God’s Servant, His only begotten Son, would endure for our sins. It is not the punishment of one who is unrighteous. Rather, it the Servant’s willing submission to take the punishment upon Himself that I deserve!

  • “Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.” Isaiah‬ ‭53:4-6‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I will never forget one Good Friday service that we shared the film “The Passion of Christ” as our focus for the evening. This film graphically portrayed both the ministry of Jesus and His suffering. The portrayl of His suffering was so realistic, so intense, that it was extremely hard to watch. The words of Isaiah 53 were brought to life on the screen. When the movie ended there was not a sound in the room. We prayed and each one left quietly, reflecting on what they had seen.

I drove home that night and everything seemed to stand still. I was so overwhelmed by Jesus’ sacrifice for my sins that I could not speak a word. He was whipped to the bone for my sins. He was nailed to the cross for my transgressions. He was pierced in the side for my rebellion. All that he suffered was for me. Jesus Christ was the perfect, spotless, sinless, lamb of God. He took my place and bore God’s wrath against sin so that I could be saved.

As Isaiah writes this prophecy that would be fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the Spirit speaking through Him calls this – “God’s good plan.” It is hard to imagine that all this abuse, anguish, and suffering was “good.” In fact, Jesus, in His humanity, wondered the same thing. When He had finished eating the Passover meal with His disciples, He went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. This is what He prayed.

  • “He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Matthew‬ ‭26:38-39‬ ‭NLT‬‬.

Jesus, weighed down by the suffering before Him, asked the Father if there was another way. In essence He was saying, “Father, is this the only plan? Is this plan really good?” Yet, in His spirit He knew that the Father’s plan was good and so He prayed – “Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

Hebrews gives us more insight into Jesus’ willing submission to God’s plan. The Father, at that moment in the garden, gave Jesus the ability to see the full purposes of all the Father intended to do through Jesus’ suffering and death.

  • “We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” Hebrews‬ ‭12:2‬ ‭NLT‬‬

The Father, at that moment in the garden, reassured Jesus that His suffering was His good plan. The result of His suffering, death, and resurrection, would be the salvation of countless people who would call upon His name in faith!

  • “When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins.” Isaiah 53:11 NLT

What can I take away from this awesome truth? God always has a good plan for my life – even when it includes suffering. So many people think that the Christian life will be a life that is free from suffering. Yet, the writer of Hebrews says that Jesus learned obedience through His suffering.

  • “Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered. In this way, God qualified him as a perfect High Priest, and he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him.” Hebrews‬ ‭5:8-9‬ ‭NLT‬

If Jesus learned obedience through the things He suffered, can I enter fully into the will of God for my life without suffering? Can I walk from victory to victory without any struggle? Can I bear fruit in my life without being pruned? If I have learned anything in my life it is that the times of my deepest spiritual growth has always come from a time of suffering, trial, or presecution.

Knowing this, I fully understand God’s purpose in suffering. It is to remove the things in my life that keep me from a deeper walk with Him. His plan is always good because His plan is to mold me into the image of Jesus Christ my Lord. We are not called to suffer for sin. Jesus has done that once and for all. Yet, we will suffer for righteousness sake. And, in the midst of our suffering we can be assured that God is working His good plan in our lives!

  • “Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later…And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” Romans‬ ‭8:18, 28-29‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Lord, I thank you this morning that Your plan for my life is a “good” plan. I know that my life will be filled with times of trial and suffering. Yet, in all of this You are working all things toward Your good purpose. Just as you raised Jesus from the dead, Father, so will you deliver my from my current struggle. And, when I am on the other side of this struggle I will see and understand Your “good” plan. Help me to learn all that You want me to learn during this time. Today I proclaim –

You are Good and Your Mercies endure forever!

In Jesus’ Name!

About Kirk's Devotional Journal

Kirk L. Zehnder is the Founder of Resurrection Christian Outreach. RCO is a ministry that promotes the growth and vitality of the local church through speaking engagements, seminars, various media tools, and written curriculum and books. This ministry was started over 35 years ago by Kirk as a means to strengthen the church that he was pastoring. It grew as Kirk began to share these tools with other churches. Today many of the materials are being used by local churches both nationally and internationally. Kirk's Devotional Journal is a result of struggling with Bible reading programs that never seemed to work. Kirk feels the Lord helped him discover an easy-to-follow program to Read, Reflect, Pray, and Journal through the Bible in one year. This program is called L.I.F.E. Unlike other programs there are no dates to follow. You can miss a day and still complete your reading. You never feel like the dates and verses you missed are chasing you. You are free to enjoy your daily Biblical journey and listen to the voice of The Lord. For more information on the L.I.F.E. plan, send an email to rcoutreach@aol.com. Kirk is also available for speaking engagements, seminars, and retreats. With over 40 years of professional business and pastoral ministry experience, Kirk brings a unique combination of practical wisdom, humor, and Biblical insight. If you would like Kirk to speak at your church, school, or ministry, please send an email to rcoutreach@aol.com and we will get back to you as soon as possible to discuss your opportunity.
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