Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21
I was exploring a library on the bottom floor of a new community center when an overhead crash suddenly shook the room. A few minutes later it happened again, and then again. An agitated librarian finally explained that a weight-lifting area was positioned directly above the library, and the noise occurred every time someone dropped a weight. Architects and designers had carefully planned many aspects of this state-of-the-art facility, yet someone had forgotten to locate the library away from all the action.
In life as well, our plans are often flawed. We overlook important considerations. Our plans don’t always account for accidents or surprises. Although planning helps us avoid financial shortfalls, time crunches, and health issues, even the most thorough strategies can’t eliminate all problems from our lives. We live in a post-Eden world.
With God’s help, we can find the balance between prudently considering the future (Proverbs 6:6–8) and responding to difficulties. God often has a purpose for the trouble He allows into our lives. He may use it to develop patience in us, to increase our faith, or simply to bring us closer to Him. The Bible reminds us, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21). As we submit our goals and hopes for the future to Jesus, He’ll show us what He wants to accomplish in us and through us.
How do you respond when your plans don’t work out or when your expectations are unmet? What might God want you to learn through those experiences?
God, I believe You’re in control of everything. Help me to live wisely in this world, committing all my plans to You.
The verses of Proverbs 19:20–23 are connected by key words that suggest both the importance of God’s people seeking wisdom and of acknowledging that God’s plans are authoritative. In verse 20, the Hebrew word esa is translated as “advice,” but in verse 21, the same word is translated as “purpose.” Both word usages are correct, but the repetition of the word shows a correlation between the verses. In other words, a person who listens to advice is wise, but God’s purposes and plans are still above the plans of the wise. As verse 22 states, desiring God’s unfailing love is necessary to gain this kind of wisdom. Further, the wise person fears God and “rests content, untouched by trouble” (v. 23). It’s important to remember, however, that the book of Proverbs offers general guidelines for living; it’s not guaranteed that one who lives in this way will be immune to difficulties (see the book of Job).