This week’s eNewsletter Feature
was written by Rev. Dr. Raymond Hylton,
FPCE senior pastor. 

Dear Friends,

Rev. Dr. Raymond Hylton

Do you ever wonder what God is up to? Or should I ask, how often do you wonder what God is up to? 

A member of my family recently made plans to travel from Canada to the United States for a gathering with other members of our family. Tickets were purchased, bags packed… and the morning they were supposed to leave for the airport, a main water pipe broke and their house flooded. Not fun. What’s happening, God?   

Why does God allow stuff like that to happen?
What is God up to?
What is God doing with your life?
Why won’t God answer the request you keep praying?
Why is God letting you suffer?
Why are there so many troublesome people in your life?
Why are you still struggling with the same stubborn sin?
Why are you still stuck in the same boring job?
What — if anything at all — is God doing with your life?  

Lately we’d have to ask: Why are there so many mass shootings in America? Why are our leaders, who so regularly now urge us to “thoughts and prayers,” unable to come together to effect meaningful change? Why must so many of our children suffer violent death in the presumptive safety of our schools? What are you up to, God?   

We are not the first to ask these questions. Job asked loads of questions because he could not understand why he suffered so many terrible losses. Habakkuk and the people of Jeremiah’s day asked similar questions. Even Jesus asked God why. 

Just read Jeremiah’s prophecy, especially chapter 29. God’s people were uprooted from their land and carted off to Babylon. Read Psalm 137 for perspective through the eyes of the sufferer. 

Deported to Babylon and living in a ghetto a thousand miles from home, God’s people watched in horror as friends and family were murdered. So, yes, they wanted to know where God was in all of that. Why was he allowing them to suffer?  

Jeremiah 29 was written to answer these questions. The main point of this familiar Scripture is that God knows what he is doing, even when it does not seem that way. His plans are always the best-laid plans. 

One reason God’s plans are best is that God knows all about them. Jeremiah 29:11 probably ranks as one of the most quoted and most dearly claimed promises of the Bible. It is found in countless desk calendars, pretty pictures, and sacred ornaments. It is rightly quoted and trusted as a very precious word of assurance from God. 

For surely, I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Just so, we now must face our future with hope. 

This Sunday is my last Sunday with you as your senior pastor. Yes, a season of serious change is coming for all of us. But we don’t — we cannot — fear the future, because God knows the future. On my anxious days, I keep reminding myself: “Ray, with God, the future is clear as day. These are God’s plans for us, not our plans for God.” God possesses the power and the right to know and fulfill his plans, which is why the plans are so good. 

It is because I know in my soul that God’s plans are good that I will be leaving you in confidence and peace.  

Thank you for the privilege of serving as your pastor for the past 13 years. I hope you will join me in worship this Sunday.  

Resting on God’s good plans for us,
Pastor Ray Hylton 

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