When Life Doesn't Go the Way You Planned
I think it’s safe to say we’ve all experienced our plans being changed in 2020. We had plans, and they were changed. Planned events and vacations were changed. How our kids went to school changed. A lot of change happened that was our of our control.
We didn’t plan to endure a global pandemic. We didn’t plan to be under a stay-at-home order. We didn’t plan to get a crash course in home schooling. We didn’t plan to do a lot of things, but here we are.
I think a lesson that we can take from 2020 is that God can allow things in our life that wreck our plans, and He is still good. Our lives may look different than we planned, but He knows the full story. We can make plans (and should), but we have to be flexible when God allows something to happen in our lives that changes those plans.
The Bible says in I John 5:14-15 that when we pray according to God's will then the answers come. We pray a prayer and God says, "That's exactly in line with what I want to do." When we form a partnership with God, God grants our requests. The attitude must become, "Lord, Thy will be done." This is what I want, but Thy will be done. Like Jesus in the Garden of Gethsamene, "Lord, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me, nevertheless, Thy will be done.”
Let's apply this to our life in a practical way.
My Plans – Do I include God in my plans? Which of these words best describe your attitude: presumption or cooperation? Do you make your plans about what you're going to do without even consulting God? Or do you get up in the morning and think, “this is what I'll do today.” Many Christians are practical atheists. They live as if God were not in control. That's why there is so much frustration in our life. When we check in with God and ask, "What is Your will for my life?" we understand and we ask God for wisdom, then life is so much smoother and satisfying and fulfilling instead of frustrating.
Now, God rarely gives us the next 10 steps of his plan. So, how do you know when to move forward in life? When you think God is leading you down a path, start moving in that direction. Plan toward and take steps toward where you think He is leading you. Just be ready to be flexible when you presumed the plan was taking you one way, and God actually had something else in mind.
My Problems – Do I look for God's purpose in my problems or do I throw a pity party? Instead of asking "Why me?" ask "What do you want me to learn?" and maybe we won't actually see the purpose at this point. That might come later on. Maybe God just wants us to trust Him. To trust Him without question, to trust His goodness and graciousness and His control. If we lost everything, like Job, how would we respond? Would we have the maturity of faith to say, "The Lord gave. The Lord took away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. If He wants to restore it He can do it."
My Prayer – Do I take advantage of the privilege of prayer? Instead of complaining about our problems, why don't we try praying about our problems? Instead of worrying about our finances, why don't we try praying about our finances? We'll have a lot less to worry about. Instead of giving up on our marriage, why don't we pray about our marriage? The things that are beyond our control are not beyond God's control.
There is no attribute that is more comforting to the Christian than the attribute of God called His sovereignty. He is in control. God knows how to turn bad into good, how to bring a purpose out of the problem. Don't waste your problems, give them to God.
When we're worried sick, we say, "God is in control." When we're defeated, discouraged and feel like a total failure, say, "God is in control!" When we're sick and flat on our back, we say, "God is in control!" When we're standing by the casket and wondering, "Why at this time?" We say "God is in control!" He's a good God. When we read the headlines about a world-wide chaos we say, "But God is in control!" When we face a problem that we cannot handle on our own and it's out of our control, God is in control.