Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)
11 For I know the plans I have for you,� says the Lord. �They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
Known unto God are all his works, for known unto him are all his thoughts and his works agree exactly with his thoughts; he does all according to the counsel of his will. We often do not know our own thoughts, nor know our own mind, but God is never at any uncertainty within himself. We are sometimes ready to fear that God's designs concerning us are all against us; but he knows the contrary concerning his own people, that they are thoughts of good and not of evil; even that which seems evil is designed for good. [Matthew Henry Commentary]
In 1986, a Christian worker named Steve Saint was traveling through the country of Mali when his car broke down. Stranded and alone, Steve tried to rent a truck, despite warnings that he wouldn't survive in the Sahara Desert. After he failed to find a truck, in his fear and discouragement, Steve's thoughts ran to his father, Nate Saint, a former missionary in Ecuador. When Steve was only five, natives speared to death his dad and four other missionaries. Now, thirty years later, Steve found himself questioning his father's death. Steve reflected, "I couldn't help but think the murders were capricious, an accident of bad timing."
When Steve asked some locals directions to a church, a few children led him to a tiny mud- brick house with a poster on the wall showing wounded hands covering a cross. A man in flowing robes introduced himself as Nouh Af Infa Yatara. Nouh started sharing with Steve about his faith in Christ. After becoming a Christian, his family disowned him. His mother even put a sorcerer's poison in Nouh's food at a family feast. He ate the food but suffered no ill effects.
When Steve asked Nouh why he was willing to pay such a steep price for following Christ, he simply said, "I know God loves me and I'll live with him forever." But Steve pressed, "Where did your courage come from?" Nouh explained that when he was young, a missionary gave him books about Christians who had suffered for their faith. Then he added, "My favorite was about five young men who risked their lives to take God's good news to people in the jungles of Ecuador. The book said they let themselves be speared to death, even though they had guns and could have killed their attackers!"
Utterly shocked, Steve said, "One of those men was my father." Now Nouh felt stunned. "Your father?" he exclaimed. Then Nouh told Steve that God had used the death of those five brave missionaries to help him, a young Muslim who had become a Christian, hold on to his faith. [Adapted from Randy Alcorn, If God Is Good (Multnomah, 2009), pp 400-401]
There are times in life when we face pain, hurt and even death. We do not know why things happen, but fortunately God does and uses what was meant for evil to be good. Five men gave their lives for Jesus Christ, but they knew they had an eternal life with Christ. The actions of these men had an impact on Nouh Af Infa Yatara that sustained his Christian faith even though he was rejected by his own family. God had used the death of those five brave missionaries to help him, a young Muslim who had become a Christian, hold on to his faith. It also gave hope to Nate Saint about the questions he had concerning the purpose of his father�s death. God�s plans are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.