By Samuel Parrish
“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.
The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.”
“The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.”
– Proverbs 16: 3-4, 33
We’re two weeks into the new year, and to the letdown of many, everything is still (in the words of the immortal Talking Heads) the same as it ever was!
Our resolve is failing for those things we just knew we were going to do differently this year. Family is already pushing against those boundaries they promised to keep over the holidays. And let’s face it; you didn’t win the $1.58 BILLION lottery this week. In Chapter 16 of Proverbs, Solomon offers some God-focused advice for those of us who feel stuck going into the new year.
Solomon’s first question is implicit in verse 3, “Who are you committing your work to?”
So many things in this world fight for our primary attention and motivation. Fear promises us utter failure if we don’t spend our energy on self-protection and relational isolation. Comfort promises us ease if we would just focus on ourselves and stop wasting resources on others. Lust promises us fulfillment if we would just stop fighting what we feel and do it already. And year after year, our masters renegotiate the deal when they fail to deliver. He who upholds the universe by the word of His power makes us a different and enduring promise: if we commit our works to the Lord, they will be established.
“But what about those who might oppose the work that the Lord promises to establish?”
Solomon answers simply that even the actions of the wicked are subject to God’s divine purpose on the Earth. If Solomon’s words here are true, and Paul’s words in Romans 8 are true, then why do we shrink back when the road gets rough? May we join in faith this year with Job in Job 42, and Isaiah in Isaiah 14, believing “that no plan of [God’s] can be thwarted.”
And before you start worrying that “your lot in life is cast,” or you have “been dealt a bad hand,” Solomon closes this chapter undermining our cultural understanding of luck.
From the little white balls that made people millionaires last night to the flat tire you didn’t have this morning even after running over that glass bottle last night, God ordains it all. Odds and statistics are helpful descriptors of what has happened, but we serve as a God who does as he pleases. The roll of the dice is just as ordained as your next steps, and because of that we take heart!
We don’t have to be the same person we have always been. If we commit our ways to the Lord, our future isn’t just a repeat of broken promises and failed resolve. The difficult choices and difficult people we encounter are just as ordained as the blessings. We can remove “blind chance” and “bad luck” from our vocabulary completely, as our every step is upheld.
So, whose plan are you committed to this year? Why are you expecting this year to be different? What excuses do you need to repent of that are keeping you from moving forward?