Plan Humbly for the Future

Yael Eckstein  |  August 5, 2022

Yael Eckstein and Bishop Lanier, who together with The Fellowship bless God's people
(Photo: Erik Unger)

Do not boast about tomorrow,
    for you do not know what a day may bring.
— Proverbs 27:1

We continue with devotional thoughts from the Book of Proverbs every Friday. One of the 11 books in the Torah known as the Ketuvim, Hebrew for “writings,” Proverbs is part of the “wisdom tradition,” which also includes Job and Ecclesiastes.

There’s an old Yiddish expression, “Man plans, and God laughs.” What happens when our neatly laid plans for the future are completely upended? Like when my father, Fellowship Founder Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, passed away suddenly three years ago.

At first, when I got the call, I was in shock. Nothing made sense. Along with the shock and pain, I was shaken because this wasn’t supposed to happen. I mean, didn’t God know that the plan was for me to become president of The Fellowship only when my father retired… and not right then?

But a few years earlier, God had placed the idea in my father’s head to begin training me as the leader of The Fellowship, to take a step back and allow me to make important decisions and learn the details of running the organization. A few months before my father died, The Fellowship’s Board of Directors just “happened” to appoint me as President-elect. During that difficult transition after my father’s death, this paved the way for me to immediately step into the role of president.

Plan Humbly for the Future

Proverbs teaches us not to be too confident about the future, “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.”

There’s a custom among Jews when discussing future plans. Whether it’s a plan to meet for coffee the next day or something as big as getting married or buying a home, Jews will often add the phrase “Im yirtzeh Hashem” — “If God wills it” — before saying what they are planning to do.

This custom perfectly captures what this verse is teaching us. The verse doesn’t say, “Don’t plan for the future.” Of course, we need to plan. It would be irresponsible not to. But we need to plan humbly for the future, always remembering that whatever we plan, it’s all dependent on what God wants, Im yirtzeh Hashem.

Your Turn:

Think about your plans for the future. Take some time in prayer to let God know that even as you plan, you trust in Him to know what is best.