If you want to make God laugh, tell Him about your plans.
This quote is apparently attributed to Woody Allen, at least so says the internet. Allen is also a confessed atheist (again, so says the internet), and as such I think we can assume the quote in Allen's context has a somewhat malicious sense to it. In my experience, most atheists have the absolute worse image of God that one could imagine: an angry old man ready to smite you at every turn for his own entertainment. But ironically this quote, or one very much like it was also used in the beautiful and tender-hearted film called "Bella."
In "Bella," God does not appear, nor has He any unseen yet overt role in the film. The quote is rendered true but not as some angry God thwarting your plans, but rather with the sense that God redeems human decisions that result in pain and tragedy. We make plans - often good and wholesome plans, but they are undermined and often by our own doing, what we intended for good is rendered bad. So God does not laugh at our failure, he "laughs" at our audacity knowing the bigger picture and that He will redeem the pain and suffering we don't see coming. The key being that we be willing to seek that redemption.
In our lives, we have very explicitly seen God "laugh" at our plans. The pain at such extensive plans being thwarted, however is such that perceiving God laughing at them is more than a little too much to bear. No. A LOT too much to bear. The anthropomorphism here is wrong. I believe He shares in our pain, but the quote rings true when we realize our plans had perhaps put more faith in ourselves than in Him. And as imperfect human decisions bring so much to nought, we are hopefully taught a lesson. No...I speak for myself: I am hopefully taught a lesson.
God will redeem this mess. He will heal it, He will turn refuse into gold. He will take all sinful human decisions (ALL of them) and he will redirect their ill-motivations (whatever they may be) and instead of more pain and suffering, there will be life and joy. It likely will not look anything like what we planned, but when we look back we will see God's redemption. I do believe that.
Believing it, though, is not enough. I must seek that redemption. Belay that....I must seek Christ Himself. Like Job in the whirlwind, I must let go of my perceived wisdom, my biases, my preconceived notions, and my faith in myself and then admit - repenting in dust and ashes - that it is ALL about Christ. "In Him we live and move and have our being."
There are no human solutions; Only Christ. There is no length or depth of dialogue that can heal; Only Christ. There is no peace to be snatched by our own effort; Only Christ. There is no hope in human institution or organization; Only Christ. On and on it goes...there is only Christ.
The extent to which I seek Him, will be the extent to which I will see His redemption. The extent to which I engage my anger, my self will to fix everything, to argue my way to peace....I will only perpetuate chaos.
It begs the question: have I prayed about it more than I have talked about it? Have I prayed about it more than I have posted online or emailed about it? Have I prayed about it more than I have worried or wrung my hands about it? No, I confess I have not.
Someday, if we continually seek Christ, we will see our thwarted plans redeemed. It will no longer be about who wins or who loses, but only Christ. It's a saintly goal, perhaps even impossible to conceive, but I truly believe Christ can heal all wounds and LITERALLY bring life from death. Someday, we will hear God laugh, and we will laugh with Him as He wipes away every tear.