“We plan and God laughs” is identified as a Yiddish proverb, the title of a book or two and the headline of multiple online articles meant to help people navigate periods in life when personal plans seem to disintegrate in front of our eyes. When we hear or read the proverb, it can be difficult not to nod along, especially when the phrase encapsulates something most of us have experienced: a perfected resume or proposal sent, but no word back; a flawless itinerary dissolved by the smallest delay; an event set to begin, upended by a storm; a setback or an entirely “new normal.”
As much as we might nod along, or wince at our own experience, the proverb points us in the other direction, too. And if not the proverb, Scripture certainly does.
In the Book of Jeremiah, the tone and task are predominantly focused on God’s judgment, but then Jeremiah shares the statement: “I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans … to give you a future with hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). These words were sent by the prophet Jeremiah to the Israelites who had been taken into Babylonian exile. These striking, comforting words reminded them that, despite their experience of the present, God’s gesture, thoughts and plans for them — and for us — are peaceful, abundant and hopeful. “We plan and God laughs”? Perhaps. But it is just as possible that “we plan, and God imagines a future with so much more.”
At Pentecost, we celebrate that God offers more than we can plan. Our gifts to the Pentecost Offering connect with God’s hope and future, supporting ministries with children, youth and young adults by building a life of faith. Through the Young Adult Volunteer program, Presbyterian Youth and Triennium, the “Educate a Child, Transform the World” initiative, as well as locally supported programs, we join in ministries that connect young people with one another and with caring communities, helping them shape a life and a future beyond even the one we could plan.
Please give generously because, when we all do a little, it adds up to a lot.
Let us pray
God of hopeful futures, make your plans in us. May they be beyond our imagining, so that our children, youth and young adults may see your kin-dom come and your will done. Amen.
For more information and resources related to the Pentecost Offering, please visit pcusa.org/pentecost.
This post is based on a Minute for Mission which can be found here as a script.
Please give generously to the Offering:
- Through your congregation
- Text PENTECOST to 91999