“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

Some like to quote this verse to hurting people asking why God allows suffering. They’re misapplying it a bit. The immediate context for this statement is:

Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

In other words–we must seek the Lord and call upon him. If we forsake wicked ways and unrighteous thoughts and return to him, God will have compassion on us and pardon us–because he’s not like us.

Verses ten through twelve go on to specify how he’s not like us. And it’s quite a challenge to us. God’s ways aren’t our ways because his words are never empty promises. He always keeps his word, accomplishes all he sets out to do, and his plans always succeed.  Though everyone around us may fail us, though we may have known no one on this earth whose word was truly their bond, God’s promise is as good as gold.

Sometimes, we really don’t understand his plan. Sometimes, we are impatient and wanting instant results when his time tables aren’t exactly McDonalds’. But it’s better to mourn with those who mourn and weep with those who weep and realize the point is, what he said he would do, he will do. One thing he never promised us was that any earthly thing would be secure. He never promised us we wouldn’t suffer here on Earth. He promised he’d be with us. He promised us forgiveness, peace, and joy. He promised us Heaven.

Lord forgive us for any unwise words we’ve spoken to hurting souls. Forgive us for any times we’ve broken our word and not done what we said we would do. Help us to be more like you, to depict your ways more accurately to a lost and broken world often jaded about promises. Give us wisdom not to over-promise and commit ourselves to more than we are able to accomplish. Transform our minds to think your thoughts, so we might act from your heart. In Jesus name we pray, Lord, amen.