We all dream and make plans, and yet things turn out differently, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. The Bible acknowledges the value of human responsibility and freedom. Yet the Bible also affirms God’s control over the course of events (see Prov. 20:24, Prov. 21:31, and Daniel 2:1-49, Dan. 7:1-28).
What does Proverbs 16:1 say? How are we to understand this text?
We prepare and make plans, but the last word still belongs to God. This does not mean that our preparations are worthless. But in the life of faith, if we just submit our plans to God, He will work with them, and our plans will be directed (Prov. 16:9) and ultimately established by Him (Prov. 16:3). Even the work of our enemies will be used in our behalf (Prov. 16:4, 7).
Though these are not simple ideas to grasp, especially when we face difficult situations, they should give us comfort and help us learn to trust God, even when things seem to go terribly wrong, and when our plans don’t turn out as we had hoped. The key point for us is to learn to surrender all to God; if we do that, we can be sure of His guidance, even in the hardest times.
Read Proverbs 16:18-19. What is the place of ambition in human success?
As always, the Bible warns against pride. After all, as fallen beings, what do we have to be proud of? What vice is more contrary to God than pride, the original sin? (See Ezek. 28:17.) Jesus emphatically taught about the iniquity of seeking to be great, and He urged His disciples to seek humility instead (Matt. 20:26–28).
Read Proverbs 16:33. What is the place of chance in human success?
The Bible does not make room for chance. For even when one thinks that the course of events is dictated by chance, we can trust that God is still in control.
As we seek to understand why things happen, how does the reality of the great controversy help us work through some difficult issues regarding why things happen as they do?