The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations. – Psalm 33:10-11
For the secular person, studying history can be so disappointing and discouraging. History is filled with heart-wrenching events. We see the inhumanity of man over and over in the rise and fall of nations, in the waves of crime that sweep through every culture, and in the greed and self-centeredness that marks humanity.
To look at history without recognizing that it is the account of God redeeming His people from the curse of sin is a thoroughly frustrating experience. The secular historian can only conclude that history is a tragic circle that keeps repeating itself over and over. But in this passage, and the passages that follow, God is at work. God allowed the cruelty of Hazael to bring judgment on rebellious Israel. In turn, God will bring about the demise of Hazael and the Syrians. His counsel stands forever; all nations, all political leaders and all the events of the world are in His hands.
When we understand that, then even the great tragedies of history which break our heart are yet understandable. We realize that it is not because God is uncaring or inept that tragedy comes into the human experience, but rather the evil one is in constant conflict against God and His people. But God brings good out of tragedy for His people, and in the rise and fall of nations, He yet works for the good of His eternal kingdom, as all events will culminate in the glorious return of Jesus Christ.
Suggestions for prayer
Thank God, with sincerity, that He works all things for our good, even deeply disturbing tragedies that we don’t understand.
This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Ted Gray has served as pastor of First United Reformed Church in Oak Lawn, Illinois for the last 15 years.