By Amy Smith
Amy Smith is associate editor of the National Catholic Register, where she edits features and likes to write about everything from hope and saints (her favorites are Thérèse and Gianna) to Jane Austen. She's the author of The Plans God Has for You: Hopeful Lessons for Young Women.
Because God is God, He knows everything. He created the world and you and me. He knows us so well:
O Lord, you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away. . . . Even before a word is on my tongue, O Lord, you know it completely. (Ps 139:1–2, 4)
He even knows how many hairs are on our heads!
Think about it: God knows the color of your hair and what hobbies you enjoy. He knows your heart and who you are even better than you do! The psalm continues to tell us that God knew us—and the plan for our lives—before we were born:
For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well. My frame was not hidden from you. When I was being made in secret. . . . Your eyes beheld my unformed substance. In your book were written all the days that were formed for me, when none of them as yet existed. (Ps 139:13–16)
He has a plan for our lives, just like the first part of Jeremiah 29:11 reminds us! And that plan can make some amazing things happen.
Let’s look at the plans He had for our Blessed Mother. She was a simple Jewish girl living a quiet life. She was betrothed to a man named Joseph and anticipated a normal married life. But God had a bigger plan for her life than she could have ever imagined: to be the mother of the Savior of the world! Of course she was scared, but her yes changed the course of human history!
Now take the example of our late pope, St. John Paul II. What an amazing servant of God! God showed a simple Polish boy who wanted to be an actor that he was meant to serve others as a priest. By following that call, St. John Paul II served the entire Church and influenced generations of Catholics and non-Catholics across the globe—talk about a huge audience!
And then there’s St. Teresa of Calcutta: God called her from her home in Albania to serve the poorest of the poor in India. By answering the Lord’s call, she served others and even won the Nobel Peace Prize. See how following God’s call really can change the world?
You and I may never be pope, and we may never do what Mother Teresa did, but we can do what we can to love God and others wherever God places us in life. Maybe you can use your artistic talent to create beautiful religious art. Or you can praise God in song. Perhaps you can teach children the faith or care for the sick as a nurse or doctor. God might be calling you to run a business or go into politics. We all are called to use our gifts to glorify God. Follow His promptings, because that is where you will flourish!
Maybe it’s hard to believe at times, but God truly wants what is best for you. Everything that happens is for our good, even disappointments and suffering.
Think of the amazing stories you’ve heard about people overcoming tremendous hardships to do great things. Helen Keller was born deaf and blind, but she learned to speak and eventually became a teacher. Thomas Edison had trouble in school as a child, but he went on to invent so many great things. Where would we be without the light bulb? Adversity spurred them on; it was a vital part of their journey to become who they were meant to be.
Many saints faced great crosses in their lives, too. St. Thérèse of Lisieux’s mother died when Thérèse was only four years old, and then Thérèse endured the pain of tuberculosis, which claimed her life when she was just twenty-four. No one believed St. Bernadette at first when she said the Blessed Mother appeared to her at Lourdes in France. But God took these sufferings and made them work in His plan for their lives—and the lives of so many others.
As St. Francis de Sales wrote, “Do not fear what may happen tomorrow. The same loving Father who cares for you today will care for you tomorrow and every day. Either he will shield you from suffering, or he will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace, then, and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginings.”
Often, when we’re in the midst of hardship, we just want to cry out, “What are you thinking, God?”—and that’s okay. We just need to make sure that anger, confusion, and fear ultimately turn to trust, because God will always help us.
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Amid all the noise in the world, how is a girl supposed to hear the quiet voice of God speaking to her heart? The Plans God Has for You: Hopeful Lessons for Young Women will remind women that God is the key to happiness and understanding one’s place and purpose in the world.