For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will hear you. Jeremiah 29:11-12
The way the news people reported the story, it seemed as if the jury had treated Willie Smith Ward in an unfair way.
At first I had to agree. After all, being sentenced to 50 years in prison for stealing spareribs worth $35 does seem to be a tad excessive. But then the rest of the article shared some of the evidence, which had been presented in the case.
For example, when a store employee tried to stop him, Ward said that he had a knife.
Then there is the fact that previously Ward had been arrested for burglary, and attempted robbery, and aggravated assault, and for leaving the scene of an accident, and for possession of cocaine, and a number of other misdemeanors.
By the time the story was completed, I understood why the jury called Willie Smith Ward an "habitual criminal."
Over the years I have heard a great many people accuse God of treating the human race in an unfair and shabby way. Indeed, whether He sends rain or shine, cool breezes, snow, or a hot summer sun, somebody thinks God is being unfair and has singled them out for abuse. And if someone dies, more often than not the first question which comes out of people's mouths is "How can God be so cruel?"
In case you have ever wondered about the Lord's intentions, there are two things which I would like to share. The first thing we need to think about is what the Lord has said in the 29th chapter of Jeremiah. There He tells us, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, (they are) plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will hear you."
That doesn't sound like someone who has a malevolent attitude, does it?
The second thing we need to recall is what the Lord has done. When humanity rejected Him, He continued to reach out to us. When we disobeyed, He continued to love. When we had broken the covenant He had established, He promised to send His Son.
Yes, look at what the Lord has done. Stop by for a moment at the Bethlehem manger and see how God's Son has become one of us, so He might carry our sins and receive our condemnation. Walk with Him, listen to Him, observe how He cares for those who are downtrodden and rejected. Go to the cross and see the Son of God dying, so we might be freed from the terrors of eternal death.
Yes, if we pay attention to everything the Lord has said and done, there will never be any doubt that He has loved us in the past, and is continuing to love us now. It's something to remember when life seems sad, sorrowful, and has more than its fair share of stumbling blocks.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, may I always be kept in the faith and live in Your grace. Forgive me for past doubts and grant that my faith may know and appreciate the power and strength of Your love. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries