by Chris Andrade
Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. Or so the saying goes.
That opportunity of a lifetime, that relationship you’ve always wanted, or landing the job you’ve dreamed of can, just as quickly as it was granted, be taken away or dramatically change course from what you were anticipating. All because life does not go the way you intended.
But as Christians, we know that life isn’t the thing that has the power to orchestrate the events of our world. Life is merely the outcome of the one who does.
There’s a God in control of the circumstances of our lives and we know that every opportunity he gives, takes, or that doesn’t go the way we expected is for a purpose. Life’s outcomes don’t go unnoticed by God because he is the one who governs them.
But let’s be honest: this can be incredibly frustrating.
Especially, when the plans we have can be things we’ve either prayed for diligently, that we find no good reason for God to take away, or that seem absolutely clear is his will for us.
However, changed plans are often what happens. So, the question that the faithful, yet frustrated, Christian is left trying to answer in the midst of thwarted plans is: why?
There Are No Easy Answers
Unfortunately for us, there are no easy answers here and I don’t presuppose to know the mind of God any more than you do. I find myself just as perplexed and frustrated as the next man when things don’t turn out the way I think they ought.
The way we find understanding and peace in the events that frustrate us is by thinking, praying, and working out our faith in the midst of it.
But, triumph in the Christian life is only found by introspection and a working out of the things we struggle with. The way we find understanding and peace in the events that frustrate us is by thinking, praying, and working out our faith in the midst of it.
This absolutely goes against our instinctive desire for God to give us all the answers and to create a visible path for our lives. I know: we wish it was easier.
However, I’m hoping I can offer you encouragement by what I’m learning as I pray, examine God’s word, and move under the Holy Spirit’s conviction in the process of dealing with this in my own life. Here’s what I think are helpful considerations as to why God changes our course unexpectedly and what do when he does.
Three Possible Reasons To Consider
The first thing to consider is whether your change of plans is either corrective or preventative in order to help you identify and keep sin out of your life.
As sure as we may be that the plans we intend on pursuing are God-glorifying, from God’s perspective, they may be anything but. His grace and discipline may actually be thwarting what you intended in order to align your plans with his.
I know that it may be tough to view God’s grace in light of what he withholds or takes away because it’s natural to think of it only in terms of what he gives. But, it could very well be the case that what he’s keeping you from is the very thing you need instead of the thing that you had planned. We just can’t see it in the moment when we have our sights fixed on our initial course.
As sure as we may be that the plans we intend on pursuing are God-glorifying, from God’s perspective, they may be anything but.
Second, it may be that God is changing our course, not to correct, but rather give us something new to handle and steward because of our faithfulness. Our demonstrated faithfulness may be the thing that God wants to utilize for his purposes because he knows that whatever important work he has for us, we will tend to it well.
Again, this can be incredibly frustrating when we have our minds set on the current plans we’re faithfully pursuing. And especially when we don’t want what he’s giving us instead.
As important as you feel your plans may be, God may want you to focus on something bigger. Even if on the surface it appears to be smaller when compared to whatever you think is more important at the time.
Lastly, and this is the toughest one to swallow, God may have hidden purposes that you’ll never know what your disrupted plans were meant for. Just as Job never knew the reasons why he was suffering, God allowed it for purposes unknown to him but that ultimately served God’s will, even if he couldn’t piece together the reasons in the end.
If your plans have changed course because of one of these reasons, unfortunately, you’ll have to patiently figure it out. We only get to see the work of God’s mysterious plans once they’ve played out; if we even get to see them at all.
How To Respond When Life Changes Course
Trying to determine why God changes plans is a good thing for us to consider. But, the solution to our problem is less about determining why God changes our plans, but how we’re going to respond when he does. Because he will.
God changing your course is always designed to do one thing: to keep you in a place of humility and submissive to his purposes. These events serve as reminders that it is not us who are in control of the circumstances of our lives but God.
…our problem is less about determining why God changes our plans, but how we’re going to respond when he does. Because he will.
This flies completely in the face of our “I’m the master of my fate, the captain of my soul” culture. And perhaps it’s the influence of that idea that makes things so difficult for us when we find that God changes things in ways we didn’t plan for.
And so, every confusing turn of events in our lives becomes a struggle for this one reason: we’re trying to reconcile them with the way we think things should’ve turned out. They have to make sense to us, otherwise, they make no sense at all.
But, they make sense to the God who’s in control of those events. As confusing and disruptive as he is in our plans, we need to remember that life isn’t about our plans. They’re about his.
So our appropriate response, really, is to accept the changes God has given to us and pursue it as faithfully as we’d pursue the thing we’d rather do instead.
As tough as it may be to consider, we need to pursue every one of our plans with just tight enough of a grasp that we can run with it. But, loose enough that we’re ready to release it when God asks it of us.
And be prepared because as loose as we become accustomed to holding what God gives us, it can still be just as difficult to let them go.
Be Prepared to Be Frustrated Yet Faithful
The Christian life will always be lived in tension between the things that are known (what we want) and what lies in the realm of mystery (what God wants).
Get used to it. Be prepared for it not to make sense. Be prepared to struggle.
The tension God creates in the midst of that struggle provides us the opportunity to demonstrate something that he wants from our lives: faith.
That faithfulness isn’t about the certainty of our plans happening, as God-glorifying as we think they are. It’s about the certainty of God’s plans happening, even in the uncertainty of what it means for us at the moment.