As I've been praying off and on today, the Lord has laid on my heart two examples from scripture where God held out for the best plan and has allowed me to feel how the people watching must have felt. One is found in John 11 when Lazarus dies. Mary and Martha sent a desperate message to Jesus saying "Lord, the one You love is sick." They cried out in desperation, hoping for a miracle and fully believing Jesus was going to come through. But God let Lazarus die and all hope seemed gone. Earlier in the chapter, Jesus had even said that this sickness wouldn't end in death and God would be glorified through it. And yet Lazarus was very much dead. Putting myself in Mary and Martha's shoes, I'm sure they would have been so confused, upset and felt hopeless. I'm sure they were sad and disappointed, to say the least. But then we start to see that Jesus had a better plan. The best plan. When Jesus finally makes his way to Mary and Martha, Lazarus has been in the tomb for four days. Martha runs to Jesus telling him that if only he had been there, Lazarus wouldn't have died. Mary stays where she is and I can only imagine it's because she didn't have any hope left. From her perspective, the person she had put her hope in let her down. Eventually Jesus calls for Mary and Mary says the same thing that Martha did. "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died!" You can almost hear her desperation and sadness. Even some of the Jews standing by said "Couldn't He who opened the blind man's eyes also have kept this man from dying?" Doubt and hopelessness filled the air. They knew Jesus was their only hope but since He wasn't there to prevent Lazarus' death, they thought all hope was gone. But then Jesus steps in and His best plan, the plan He had all along, starts to unfold. He asks for the stone to be removed, thanks his Father in heaven so all can hear and experience His glory, and then commands "Lazarus, come out!" Lazarus comes out of the tomb, still bound hand and foot with linen strips and his face wrapped in cloth. Jesus commands them to loose him and let him go. Then in verse 45 it says "Therefore, many of the Jews who came to Mary and saw what He did believed in Him." Jesus' best plan meant salvation for many other Jews. His best plan meant God's ultimate glory was put on display. Jesus' best plan showed His power over death. He kept his word and this sickness did not end in death. Lazarus was very much alive.
The best example from scripture that I've been thinking about today is Jesus' death on the cross. The ultimate best plan. Even though Jesus prophesied about His death and resurrection and scripture screamed these truths that the Messiah was coming to redeem God's people back to Himself, His death was devastating and shocking to those close to Him. How could this be the best plan? When Jesus predicts His death in Mark 8 to the disciples, Peter starts to rebuke Jesus and later we see that Peter naively says he will defend Jesus and not allow this to happen. Jesus' response to Peter is "Get behind Me, Satan, because you're not thinking about God's concerns, but man's!" Oh how I want to have God's perspective for my life. So often I am only concerned with my own and what seems best from my very limited and selfish perspective. In the last three years, God has used this adoption as a tool in my life to constantly seek Him for His perspective. And in His kindness, as I've sought His perspective throughout the highs and lows of this journey, He has given it to me.
Can you imagine if Jesus would have granted Peter's request? If God would have compromised on His best plan for all of us? Jesus would not have been crucified. He would not have spent three days in the grave. He would not have risen from the grave and conquered death and we would not have been redeemed. We would not be God's children and there would be no inheritance for us as co-heirs with Christ. We would have no hope. Praise the Lord that God never once for even a second thought about compromising His best plan for us!!! He sent Jesus to live a perfect life, die a criminal's death that we all deserve and raised Him from the dead and He is now seated at the right hand of the Father interceding for us every single day. God's best plan means we can once again live in relationship with Him and be in His presence. God's best plan means that I am His and He is mine for all eternity.
So in my disappointment of another Friday passing without a visa and the answer to our cry of bringing our boys home before Christmas is a no, I look to these examples in scripture to say that I don't know what the best plan is. But I trust in God and I trust that His plan is always the best plan and I trust that He will never compromise on that, even if it means allowing us to experience sadness and disappointment. He hasn't missed it or messed up. I don't know the specifics of how this adoption ends, but I do know that God will receive the most glory possible by it ending the way He has written it and not us. I trust in God's best plan for our family. It's right and good for us to ask God for miracles and wait expectantly for Him to move. But when He lovingly says 'Not yet', we have to humbly open our hands and surrender our imperfect plan to His perfect and sovereign plan. The best plan that we can't even dream up in our wildest imaginations because it's that good.
Isaiah 29:11-14a "For I know the plans I have for you - this is the LORD's declaration - plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. You will call to Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you - this is the LORD's declaration..."