God Saw It Coming and He Can Handle It

Larry DuggerBy Larry Dugger12 Minutes

Excerpt adapted from Unshakable! A 40-Day Guide to Overcoming Anxiety, Worry, and Emotional Distress


God can see what has been keeping you up at night. He knows why your stomach is in knots. He knew about your trouble, long before you found out about it.

“David said it all: ‘I saw God before me for all time. Nothing can shake me; he’s right by my side. I’m glad from the inside out, ecstatic; I’ve pitched my tent in the land of hope. I’ll never even smell the stench of death. You’ve got my feet on the life-path, with your face shining sun-joy all around’” (Acts 2:25–28 msg).

God’s purposes for your life are set. They aren’t affected by the depths of what has been dragging you under. In less than two months, the same disciple who shook his head in confusion at the tomb of Jesus offers what could easily be the best advice ever given when you’re overtaken by despair.

Listen as the apostle Peter tells the crowd gathered after the day of Pentecost, what was actually happening behind the scenes when the sun stopped shining:

“Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.” (Acts 2:22–24)

When trapped in what you can’t fix, remember darkness is no match for God. He, alone, can untie death’s ropes. When you’re pinned down, reach up. God’s set purpose is working to free you from the agony of a broken heart.

Even when you’re facing the loss of something that can never be replaced, you can confidently move forward knowing God will not leave you on the back roads of pain and suffering. The detour may have left you feeling miles from nowhere, but the road in front of you will lead you out.

The apostle Peter was quick to point out, God’s set purpose and foreknowledge concerning what was going to happen to Jesus went hand in hand. The nails, whip, and the unbelievably heavyweight of sin were all a part of the plan of salvation. I realize this is a subject often skipped over. It’s uncomfortable and causes us to question.

If God can see the darkness heading in our direction, why doesn’t he step in front of it? Maybe you feel like a dear woman I recently met. Her grandson was just killed in a wreck, less than two miles from her home. She said, “Larry, why did this happen and why did God allow it?” I will admit I stumbled a little in my response.

I explained to her God does not cause catastrophe in the lives of his children. The fact her grandson was killed was not God’s fault and if given the choice, God would have spared her the pain.

The garden of Eden is a perfect example of the kind of life God envisions for us—a life free of death and darkness. Sin put thorns on roses, and we have felt the poke and poison ever since. This earth is no longer our home.

After Adam and Eve sinned, our capacity to find comfort here was greatly diminished. Heaven is our home, and the problems we encounter in our everyday lives should make us homesick.

The foreknowledge of God is not a slap in the face. It only proves that once God knows the sun is about to stop shining, he immediately begins working on the dawn of a new day. It was true for Jesus and it is true for you as well. Your rescue may involve the love and support offered by others or the warm blanket of comfort thrown over you by the Holy Spirit. God saw the cross long before Jesus was nailed to it.

Will you be like Jesus, who couldn’t be shaken, or will you end up like so many others with crumbled foundations? While walking through the graveyard of death, it is possible for your feet to be firmly planted on a life path.

Just like with Jesus, the enemy is working hard to get you to forget God is the only good thing, in every bad thing.

God can certainly handle whatever life throws in your direction. He is still the God who raises the dead. He cannot be bullied by death.

“We felt like we’d been sent to death row, that it was all over for us. As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened. Instead of trusting in our own strength or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally—not a bad idea since he’s the God who raises the dead!” (2 Corinthians 1:9 msg).

The apostle Paul had a lot to say about the confusing conditions of life. Sunless days piled high with despair were something he was very familiar with and, like in the above verse, often wrote about. Paul was thrown in prison, bitten by a snake, shipwrecked, abandoned by team members, and even stoned to near death—all while pursuing God’s will. Paul was the poster child for what to do when the once clearly defined lines of life get blurry.

How did he keep moving forward in the face of such chaos?

The answer is easy to spot as you read his writings. Paul used the resurrection of Jesus as an example when disclosing his private thoughts during days of distress. He often looked back at what didn’t make sense at the time, and by examining God’s faithfulness, he was able to stand strong. I think the best example of this is found in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church.

Here, Paul explains to the Corinthians how God’s faithfulness can be seen in three time zones: past, present, and future.

If you disregard God’s faithfulness in the past—the future probably looks bleak. Paul learned a lot about the purposes of God while in Asia:

“We don’t want you in the dark, friends, about how hard it was when all this came down on us in Asia province. It was so bad we didn’t think we were going to make it.” (2 Corinthians 1:8 msg)

Considering the relentless pounding Paul went through, you know it is serious business when he says something is so bad he thought he might not make it out. When your world is twirling and your future seems a mess—so twisted it can never be untangled—you too can believe life is over. Paul, honestly, felt like the plan of God was somehow altered and the future was so compromised it could never be salvaged, let alone blessed.

Thankfully, the story doesn’t end there. Like most good books, life comes with a few cliff-hangers, and in those moments of suspense, you can become scared. Fear is trying to get you to forget God still makes the crooked places of life straight (Isaiah 45:2).

It can be difficult to trust God while you’re waiting to see how something is going to turn out. When Paul thought he wasn’t going to make it, he was forced to put his trust completely in God. Something, he admits, he should have been doing all along. He implies that in the past, he occasionally relied upon his own strength and wits but not this time. This time he was dependent upon the God who raises the dead.

The results were incredible:

“He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us.” (2 Corinthians 1:10)

Once removed from the dark corners of Asia, Paul boldly proclaims, “God has delivered us, God is currently delivering us, and God will continue to deliver us.” God is not bound by time. His faithfulness can be seen in the past and present, which indicates he can also be trusted with the future. If God could raise Jesus back to life, he could easily handle anything Paul found distressing.

Likewise, God can also handle whatever currently has you in a panic. Just because something doesn’t make sense at the time, doesn’t mean it won’t make sense in time. In times of struggle, it’s always important to remember that God can handle it.

God is a time traveler. He can reach back into the confusion of yesterday and use every tragic thing that tried to take you out, as the opportunity to lift you up. He can show up in the shadows of your current crisis proving yet again the Son has your back.

Excerpt from Unshakable! A 40-Day Guide to Overcoming Anxiety, Worry, and Emotional Distress, 2021 by Larry Dugger. Published by Fidelis Publishing. Used with Permission.

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