Friday, October 17, 2014

What Might Have Been

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

She came with a new, pink blanket in her hands. She should have been carrying something else. But, she wasn’t. They should have been heading home to family in the Midwest. But they weren’t. Instead, they were standing with two strangers in a cold and windswept cemetery.

They had come to bury their baby. She could not bear the thought of her little one lying in the cold ground—thus the blanket. Their minds were plagued by thoughts of what might have been.

He had returned safely from Vietnam and been discharged from the Marines two weeks earlier. He stayed on in North Carolina because his wife was in the hospital with a difficult pregnancy. They had plans for a baby shower when they returned to family and friends. They had planned what color to paint the baby’s room. They had planned for the joy of parenthood. They had not planned for the word “stillborn” to be echoing in their minds.

It seemed cruel. Both parents had been baptized as infants. They had gone to Sunday School and church. They had been confirmed. They had lived the Christian life while teenagers. So why was God so heartless?

He wasn’t. But his plans for them were different from what they were expecting. As they stared at the small grave on that December day, they may have felt that their plans were better than God’s plans. God’s plans hurt.

But human eyes are not able to see the future. Human minds cannot see how all the pieces of life’s puzzle might fit together. Human hearts cannot love to the depth of God’s surprising grace.

So, it is a good thing that God has plans for each of those he calls his own. Good thing that he can absolutely carry his plans out. Good thing that his plans are to prosper us in ways that cannot imagine—plans that will give hope and a future.

Good thing there is God!

Perhaps this grieving couple became the parents of other children. Maybe one of them grew up to be a Marine. Maybe one of them became a pastor. Who knows? God knows, and he already knew as he watched that pink blanket tenderly placed over that tiny casket.

With sorrow we may sometimes wonder why things don’t work out the way we had planned. With faith, we can be assured that all things will work together for our good.

What might have been is not as important as, according to God’s plans, what will be.

Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain
If you would like to receive Pastor Ziemer’s weekly devotions, please visit

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Hawaii Lutheran Church (WELS)

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Honolulu, HI
Community Lutheran Church holds protestant chapel services in Honolulu, Hawaii near Pearl Harbor, HI. We are next to the USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor Naval Base, Hickam Air Force Base, and Fort Shafter Hawaii. Look for us directly behind the Salt Lake, Hawaii, Target.