When Life Does Not Turn out as You Planned

Life can be so complicated and confusing at times. We struggle to make ends meet and begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel, only to lose our job or our health fails. We pray for strength and we seem to get even weaker. We ask God to deliver us from evil and the devil works overtime bombarding us with one alluring temptation after another. At times we feel like giving up. Serving God does not seem to work for us. There just does not appear to be any rhyme or reason to our existence. Does this sound familiar? Have you ever been there? Do you know someone who is being stretched so much that they are near the breaking point?

Well, the good news is that there is a way to keep from living a life burdened by your circumstances. There is hope. There are solutions.

Bible Principles that Work

I'm going to share some Bible examples in a moment, but first let's consider some concrete principles — ones that will enable us to face any situation victoriously.

First, it is important to know that if you are God's child, He is vitally interested in the details of your personal life. Although He is gracious to believers and unbelievers alike (see Matthew 5:45), God is not normally involved in the unbeliever's life on a personal level. This privilege is reserved for those who are His children.

As His child, God leads you: "The Lord is my Shepherd…He leads me" (Psalm 23:1–3). He will also provide for you: "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things [food, drink, and clothing] shall be added to you" (Matthew 6:33). Further proof of His personal interest in you is His gracious invitation for you to cast "all your care upon Him, for He cares for you" (1 Peter 5:7). It matters to Him concerning you, and His wonderful promise to come to your aid demonstrates His loving concern for you.

Second, realize that God's perfect character will not allow Him to do wrong. Things may not always seem as if they are right or fair, but we can rest in the fact that since God is who and what He is, He can do no wrong. Abraham had it correct when he declared, "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (Genesis 18:25). If God is as the Bible describes Him (and as my experience has proven Him), it cannot be any other way.

Third, relax in the relationship God established with you when you trusted in Christ as your Savior. At that instant He became your heavenly Father and you became His child. He personally trains and disciplines every son and daughter He receives. Hebrews 12 sums it up beautifully:

My son, do not despise the chastening [discipline] of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives… But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.
— Hebrews 12:5–6, 12:8

Fourth, recognize that you only see the "here and now," while God sees the entire picture from beginning to end. Don't allow yourself to judge God's integrity or character based on the very narrow view you have of your present situation. You just do not have the capabilities to see things as they really are in the grand scheme of things. None of us are capable of that, but God sees the end of things from their beginning. Meditate upon these great verses:

Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, “My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure.”
— Isaiah 46:9–10
And, I have declared the former thing from the beginning; they went forth from My mouth, and I caused them to hear it. Suddenly I did them, and they came to pass.
— Isaiah 48:3

Fifth, in light of what was just said, practice taking the long view. Don't allow yourself to look at a present circumstance in light of what appears to be; nor dare to attempt to understand what is happening in your life based on its pleasantness or unpleasantness. This principle was clearly demonstrated in the life of Jesus when He was facing the cross. One of the most beautifully touching passages of Scripture describes it:

Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him [the long view] endured the cross [the present unpleasant situation], despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
— Hebrews 12:2

Make it your habit to look beyond the apparent and look to the God who sees and knows all.

Sixth, rejoice in God's sovereignty. He is in control — not circumstances, not luck, not the fickle finger of fate, not other people. Because He is sovereign over all, God can change circumstances. He can move people to change their minds, their decisions, and their actions. No prophet was any more certain of this than Daniel. King Darius came to the lions den after Daniel's enemies had thrown him into it, and inquired, "Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?" He, who was wrongfully fed to the lions and survived, gave the credit for his deliverance where it rightly belonged. His quick reply to the king was, "O king, live forever! My God sent His angel and shut the lion's mouths, so that they have not hurt me" (Daniel 6:20–22).

Earlier in his life, this same Daniel had told King Nebuchadnezzar: "The Most High rules in the kingdom of men, gives it to whomever He will, and sets over it the lowest of men" (Daniel 4:17). And even Nebuchadnezzar himself would eventually come to his senses and declare:

All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He [God] does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand or say to Him, “What have You done?”
— Daniel 4:35

Finally, be thankful that nothing comes into your life as a child of God without there being a divine purpose for it, or without God turning it around for your ultimate good. Consider:

For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory; no good think will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.
— Psalm 84:11

Then, God led Paul to pen the following immortal words. (See also Isaiah 30:18 and Jeremiah 29:11.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
— Romans 8:28

The Human Response

A yielded, submissive heart reaps God's riches blessings. Scriptural examples abound.

  • Noah building a huge ship on dry land waiting for a gigantic flood which had never occurred before and he and his family were saved (Genesis 6–7)
  • Abraham offering up his only son, Isaac and God spared him giving descendants innumerable (Genesis 22)
  • Joseph, Jacob's son, being sold into slavery by his brothers, only to eventually become the number two ruler over all of Egypt, second only to the Pharaoh (Genesis 37–50)
  • Job losing all that he had, including his seven children and his health, living to see God restore to him "twice as much as he had before" (Job 1:1–2:20, 42:10)
  • David being hunted like a wild animal by King Saul, yet eventually being crowned king over all Israel (1 Samuel)
  • Queen Esther risking her life for the sake of her own Jewish people who were on the brink of extermination and they were delivered (Esther 4)
  • The New Testament Joseph, because he believed God concerning his betrothed, took Mary as his wife when her pregnancy seemed rather suspicious and through her Messiah Jesus was born (Matthew 1:18–25)
  • The apostle Paul viewing all of his trials as simply means "for the furtherance of the gospel" and "all the world" heard (Philippians 1:12; Colossians 1:5–6, 1:23)

And what about you? Are you going through some bewildering, hurtful times? The God whom all of these Bible heroes trusted is still actively working on your behalf today. In simple submission reach out to Him and say with the Psalmist, "My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth" (Psalm 121:2). His promise is: "He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber…the Lord is your keeper" (Psalm 121:5). Trust Him in your darkest hour and He will prove to be your light, your deliverer, and the strength of your life (Psalm 27:1). What an awesome God we have.