“For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”
—Jeremiah 29:11

When we talk about God’s sovereignty or our responsibility, too often we focus on the negative aspects of those truths. We say, “God’s sovereignty means I’m only a puppet, and my responsibility means I’m a prisoner to the mistakes I’ve made.” Not at all. These twin truths of God’s sovereignty and our responsibility offer great hope for those of us who have failed.

First, God’s sovereignty means that our screw-ups don’t mess up His plan for our lives. Isn’t that a comforting truth?

Second, the truth that our actions have consequences also offers great hope for the future. The fact that we are responsible for the choices we make means that in spite of our past mistakes, we can change. God has given us the freedom to make decisions right now that will positively alter the course of our lives and our eternity. Personal failures and catastrophes can be catalysts for changes in our lives that produce a brighter future for us. That’s a great hope!

J. C. Penney is an example of a person who made a choice to change the course of his life. He experienced his share of failures. In 1898, he founded The Golden Rule Store, featuring low prices. However, in 1910 Penney’s wife died. In 1919 he remarried, but four years later his second wife died. Then Penney married a third time. He poured his life into his work, and by 1929 J.C. Penney had accumulated a net worth of $40 million. Then came the Great Depression, and he lost all his wealth. Penney was so devastated that he entered a sanitarium. As he lay in bed one day, he heard a hymn coming from the chapel. Penney cried out to God for help, and the Lord answered his request. Penney’s depression lifted, and soon he left the sanitarium.

Once again he rebuilt his great fortune and established the company that we know today as JCPenney. During his remaining years he gave away millions of dollars to Christian causes and told everybody who would listen about the power of God to redeem a life. When he died at age 95, J. C. Penney had enjoyed a great second act in his life. Why? Because J. C. Penney decided that his biggest failure would not be his finale in life. He believed in the power of God to change his life and his eternity.

And God can do that for you as well. It doesn’t matter what you have done in the past. God has a plan for your life. Because of God’s sovereign plan, even your biggest failure can be transformed for your good and for God’s glory.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Although the Script’s Been Written, You Can Still Improvise” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2016.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.