God Has a Plan: Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry

Recently, a dear and long time friend of mine expressed his disappointment for his nephew, who was crushed not to be admitted to his top choices for college despite superior credentials. After some delay, he was accepted at a good school, although it was not where he thought he wanted to go. I told my friend to keep praying for his nephew, because God has a plan for him. This sounds like a platitude, but my life experiences have led me to firmly believe in this truth

At the beginning of 2018, my law firm had three offices (Virginia, California and Texas), nine attorneys and support staff. I had invested heavily in the future growth of the firm, building out extra office space for more attorneys. After 18 years of growth, growth was the path forward. But things changed quickly.

Work began to slow down. A big client began to give work to other law firms. My longest serving attorney suddenly resigned to go to a different law firm. I was reeling. Just as I thought things were stabilizing, my second most senior attorney resigned to take a dream job in human resources. The revenue from our remaining attorneys could not support our monthly overhead. Staff lay-offs were required.

Over the following months, I found a tenant to sublease our entire office in Texas. I negotiated a buy-out of our lease in California. Finally, I surrendered our offices and furniture in Virginia to the landlord and negotiated a release from the lease. The stress during this process was incredible.

By the end of 2019, the law firm had no offices (we were virtual), two attorneys and very little support staff. Our revenue was a fraction of what it had been, but we were finally out of the red. We had survived.

In the spring of 2020, an unknown respiratory illness named “COVID-19” led to lockdowns across the United States. Work continued as normal at my law firm, however, as we had already moved to an entirely virtual work environment. We made a small profit in 2020 and there were no job losses at the firm. God has a plan.

In the Old Testament book of Genesis in the Bible, we read the story of Joseph.[1] Joseph was the youngest son of the patriarch Jacob, who had been renamed Israel by God. As the son of his old age, Joseph was also the favorite son of Jacob. At the age of 17, Joseph was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers.  The tribe that purchased Joseph sold him to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh in Egypt. “The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man.”[2] Unfortunately, Joseph was good-looking and caught the attention of Potiphar’s wife. After she unsuccessfully attempted to seduce Joseph, she claimed that he instead had came into her house to lie with her. Potiphar, enraged, had Joseph thrown in prison. Once again, however, “[t]he Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love, and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.”[3]

In prison, Joseph was called up to interpret the dreams of two of Pharaoh’s men. Joseph’s interpretation came to pass, but the chief butler who had promised to remember him did not—he forgot Joseph.

Two years went by before Pharaoh had two dreams that could not be interpreted. The chief butler finally remembered Joseph and told Pharaoh. Pharaoh called upon Joseph, who was able to interpret the dream. The dreams prophetically warned Pharaoh of what God intended to do—there would be seven years of plenty, and seven years of famine. Joseph proposed a wise plan to store up a portion of the harvest during the years of plenty to prepare for the years of famine. Recognizing the Spirit of God in Joseph’s wisdom, Pharaoh set Joseph over all of Egypt. “Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt.”[4]

“And the patriarchs, jealous of Joseph, sold him into Egypt; but God was with him, and rescued him out of all his afflictions, and gave him favor and wisdom before Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who made him governor over Egypt and over all his household.”[5]

Eventually reunited with his brothers and father during the famine, Joseph could now see that God had been guiding him on the path through his thirteen years in Egypt.

“I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. . . . And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God.”[6]

“As for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”[7]

We face many difficulties and perplexities in life. Things do not always go according to our plan. We encounter disappointment. Even worse, sometimes tragedy or evil confronts us. Life can seem overwhelming. We cry out, “God, where are you?”

Jesus faced this in His Passion, condemned and crucified by evil men. In that moment, nailed to the Cross, Jesus cried out—“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”[8]

This is the great mystery of salvation in Jesus Christ. The death of Jesus on the Cross washed away the sins of mankind and opened the doors to heaven again. “In God’s eyes, the Cross is the greatest triumph. . . . What seems to us to be failure is, in God’s eyes, the victory of sacrificial love.”[9]

This mystery operates in our lives as well, if we are surrendered to Jesus and His plan for our life. As we see in the story of Joseph, God’s plan is always to bring about good, even from evil. St. Paul affirms that “we know that all things work for good for those who love God.”[10]

 We can meditate on this truth by placing ourselves in the place of the prophet Jeremiah, and hear God speak these comforting words to us:

“I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”[11]

In light of these great promises, we should imitate the courage of our fathers in the faith in facing the difficulties and disappointments in our lives.[12] God’s promises and the testimony of our forefathers should fill us with hope.[13]

When you find yourself facing disappointment, when things do not seem to be going your way, or when evil rears its ugly head in your life, renew your faith, hope and trust in Almighty God. As Padre Pio was fond of saying, “Pray, hope and don’t worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer.”

I pray that the God of comfort would comfort you in your difficulties, that Jesus would calm the raging storm around you, and that the Holy Spirit would minister peace to you, in the Name of Jesus. Have firm faith. Be courageous. God has a plan. When things seem hopeless, lift up your heart to God and pray, “Jesus, I trust in you.”

[1]           Genesis chs. 37-50.

[2]           Genesis 39:2.

[3]           Id. verse 21.

[4]           Genesis 41:46.

[5]           Acts 7:9-10, RSV-CE.

[6]           Genesis 45:4-8, RSV-CE.

[7]           Genesis 50:20, RSV-CE.

[8]           Matthew 27:46, RSV-CE.

[9]           An excerpt from a homily preached by Pope Saint John Paul II in Lesotho, in 1988.

[10]         Romans 8:28, NABRE.

[11]         Jeremiah 29:11, RSV, CE.

[12]         Hebrews 12:1-2, RSV-CE (“let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”)

[13]         Romans 15:4, RSV-CE (“Whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.”)

Learn more about the mission of Abound in Hope Ministry