When Things Don’t Go As Planned

Three years in to Jesus’ ministry on earth, the disciples must have felt that they’d found their groove. Except for the predicable run-ins with the visionless religious leaders in the city, Jesus was wildly popular, well-known and gaining more and more influence with the common people in the community. His entrance into Jerusalem practically hailed Him as new king. “Hosanna to the Son of David,” the crowds proclaimed! (Matt. 21:9) Once the celebration concluded, quiet discussions among the disciples pondered what would happen when Jesus eventually made his play to cast off the Roman oppression and set up His kingdom on earth. A few even bickered about the powerful roles that would most certainly await them as Christ’s most trusted inner group.  (Mk 10:37)

How disoriented and bewildered they must have been when only a week later, Jesus’ prediction of suffering, trial and death unraveled their expectation.

girl-worried-1215261_1280Have you ever been there? Do you know the pain and frustration of seeing good and right hopes crumble? Do you wonder how to push forward in faith when things just aren’t turning out as you planned?

In this life, relationships end. Circumstances change. The unexpected happens. Disappointment and frustration settle in and take hold.  We want answers.  Explanations.  Understanding. Assurances.

But pushing aside our demands, Jesus whispers a reassuring reminder…

“Believe in God.  Believe also in Me.”  John 14:1

And you know, sometimes that has to be enough. The reality of the Christian life… and of life in general… is that we don’t get the answers we want. We don’t get guarantees.  We don’t get the promise of our fulfilled expectations.

But we do get Jesus.

God understands our natural tendencies. He doesn’t get mad, surprised or disappointed when we react to unexpected circumstances with strong emotion. But as we develop spiritually, we ought not get stuck in a downward spiral.  Instead, we should wind up in the same place the Apostle Paul did—leaning on Christ to give him the ability to endure whatever came his way.

An often misapplied scripture reads– “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” (Phil 4:13) Instead of being an overcoming shout of self-assurance, essentially, Paul was saying that “when things are bad… when I’m tempted to grumble and complain or run from difficulty, I lean on Christ– He’s the one that gives me ability to keep going in extreme situations.” Just as Paul did, we must also learn to adopt that attitude if we’re ever to remain steadfast against the winds of adversity that rage against us.

Changing our perspective on the difficulties of life won’t happen with sheer will-power. It begins where everything in the Christian life begins… with Jesus Christ. Instead of blaming the Lord for the situations that make us cry or retreat into despair, we must gradually learn to take our honest pain to Him.

As Jesus was dragged away to be crucified, the disciples couldn’t see anything beyond the destruction of their hopes.  We often can’t either.  It’s in those times we have to choose to continue to believe… not because of anything we can see… but only because we have met, and know firsthand, who Jesus really is.


25 thoughts on “When Things Don’t Go As Planned

  1. Our plans don’t always match up to God’s plan and when they don’t go as we plan, I believe it is God’s way of saying this is way I planed and He is one that made it happen to way He planned instead of the way we planned. (Blogging for God Facebook Group Member)

  2. All too often I have been disappointed when my plan didn’t work out only to find much later on that it was a good thing it didn’t. Your post reminds us of this truth – God’s ways are always better. I also appreciate how you clarified Philippians 4:13.

    Thanks for linking up with Grace and Truth.

    1. I think hindsight helps us appreciate the plans God has to work our heartaches out for good. We see what he’s done enough times to help us trust Him when we cant. thanks Aimee!

  3. I love, love , love this! What a wonderful reminder that all we have to do is lean on Jesus to get through life. Thank you for linking up with Thankful Thursdays.

  4. Hi Karen, I’m a creature of habit and a spanner in the works is truly not my favourite thing to experience. Its sometimes hard to remember in the midst of chaos, that God has got this right?! But we keep on trying and never give up.
    Great post, thanks for linking up
    God bless

  5. Karen,
    What a poignant reminder to remember who is in control. God is not surprised by the unexpected. He has a plan for every occurrence in our life. We must learn to trust Him in everything especially when things don’t go as we hoped. I struggle with this at times because I am a “serial” planner. However, my faith continues to grow when the unexpected happens and I now ask myself..”God what do you want me to learn for this?” He usually reveals to me and I am better for it. Thanks for sharing such an inspirational post. You are a fabulous writer and I was blessed to visit here today.

    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Horace. I’m a ‘serial planner’ to and have to constantly work at sifting those Plan B moments through God’s sovereignty. I know that His plan is always best but have to work at coming along side and submitting to His way of accomplishing His purpose.

    1. We definitely have to take our pain to Him, so that we can be molded into His image through our disappointments. Appreciate you stopping by!

  6. Like always Karen you hit a grand slam. I loved the way you pointed out how easy it is to misunderstand scripture (Phil 4:13). Trials and tribulations do play havoc in our lives and our desire to find quick relief from the suffering makes us chase after insufficient solutions. And you brought us into the only real solution-Christ. Patience is faith and no matter how troublesome life is we know Christ will heal us at the exact time God intends for it to happen. Thank you for a beautiful way of sharing your faith.

    1. I think there will always be that desire in us to find quick relief. In those times we have to be aware of satan’s temptations to lure us off the path. If you think about it, that’s exactly what the enemy appealed to when Jesus was hungry in the desert. “Take the short cut and do things your own way instead of submitting to God’s will.” Patience and trust will help us stay right where we need to be… even in those moments when we don’t like it very much. Thanks, Walter!

  7. Everyone needs to read this. Everyone at some point will find themselves reeling, “disoriented & bewildered.” It may be due to our own sin or the sin of someone else. It may simply be because we live in a fallen world.

    But as we wipe the tears from our eyes, we must do like you’ve said so well. Run to Jesus. We may even be mad at Him, but He can handle that.

    We MUST remember that there is a bigger story than what we see. Some things which seem so odd now, may be the seeds of something which will bear great fruit 100 years from now. He is the Master story teller, weaving a plot that would make our heads spin. We may be in shock, maybe devastated, but He is trustworthy & is up to something for our ultimate good. Ro 8:28 will always be true. There is a bigger picture we can’t see, but as you said, He is trustworthy. He loves us more than we can comprehend.

    “Can a woman forget her nursing child,
    And not have compassion on the son of her womb?
    Surely they may forget,
    Yet I will not forget you.
    See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands.” Isaiah 49:15-16

    1. Well said, Rachel. We have such a small sliver of the whole picture of what God is doing for us, through us and in us. If we could only pull back the veil for a minute, I think we’d stop our objections and stand dumbfounded at all the beautiful good that comes from the things that we fight so hard to get away from. But then I guess that’s what a life of faith is all about, isn’t it? We believe, not because we can see the reality, but because He says it is so.

    1. I think that it’s only in the context of relationship with Him that a lot of what we encounter will ever make sense. So glad that we can trust His promises to make ‘all things work together for good for those who love God and who have been called according to his purpose.” Rom 8:28

  8. This is so true! Sometimes we want to know all the why’s. But most of the time we have to be satisfied with not knowing. I agree that it’s less about the why and more about the Who. We may not know why we are in a certain situation, but we can be confident in Who is with us.

    1. I think when we are asking all our questions of God, what we’re really searching for is for it all to make sense from a human perspective. But so much of what goes on around us defies explanation in the here and now and only with His perspective (that often comes much later) can we grasp the reality of what He is orchestrating.

  9. I am so glad we get Jesus, because I sure need Him. Don’t know what I would do without Him. I am so glad He accepts me the way I am even when I do not react the way I should to my circumstances. I am learning to change that reaction with His help though. Very encouraging post, enjoyed it.

    1. Yes, Plan D, E, F, and G sometimes. But of course that’s only our perspective. HE only has Plan A and is working it out for our good. Thanks Susan!

  10. Sometimes I feel like the poster child for when things don’t go as planned. I have felt all the ways that you described and then some. Thanks be to the holy spirit to remind me who’s plan really matters. It certainly isn’t mine. Great post and perfect reminder!

    1. I’m with you. I’m totally a planner and when there’s a monkey wrench thrown it, it also throws me! And yes, we do have an ‘in house’ reminder-er of whose plan is best!

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