When Your Life Doesn’t Turn Out the Way You Planned
by Tiffany Smiling
When I was ten years old, I received the worst news of my life. I was sitting in a chilly hospital room as a world-renowned neurosurgeon entered. He greeted my family politely, pulled up a chair, and while looking down at the MRI scans gripped between his fingers, the diagnosis spilled off his lips . . . brain cancer. A brain tumor so rare that even he was incapable of removing it.
After that moment, I was forced to fight a battle that I never wanted to be mine. As each new day approached, my family and I would stand firm in belief that this would be our year. It would be the year that God would miraculously heal my body and cure the cancer. It would be the year that I would receive my victory—the year that a childhood of normalcy would be in reach.
The New Year proposed a high expectation. It gave a fresh hope to keep believing God despite the bad reports. But another year would pass . . . and another. Surely, God’s plan was to heal my body miraculously just like He healed the little girl with epilepsy in the Bible. I knew He was capable. I’d witnessed His miracles in the lives of others, but in my own, there didn’t appear to be any progress.
What are we supposed to do when our plans are interrupted and life doesn’t turn out the way we believed it would?
The lesson God is continuing to teach me is this: His plan for my life is different than my own. Through this journey called life, we are going to face interruptions. Interruptions come in different ways and in different forms:
The spouse you have prayed for years to meet, but your paths have yet to cross.
The job promotion that you knew was just around the corner, but it was given to someone else.
The tiny baby you dream of holding, but you struggle to get pregnant.
When our own plans for our lives are interrupted, it shakes us emotionally and our faith is challenged. We are left wondering, God, how? . . . Why me, God? More prominently, these interruptions require us to walk through a period of time in the wilderness on a journey called trust.
Time in the wilderness is one of the greatest disguised blessings from the Lord. Don’t get me wrong, it can be horribly lonely. Some days, unbearable. But what can be difficult to see on the front end of the journey is that there is a purpose. Masked behind our feelings of defeat from continuing to believe God when we do not see progress, stands that purpose: The treasure of being required to trust fully in the Lord.
The wilderness is the place where the Lord is preparing our hearts for an even greater plan He has for us. In fact, the pattern that we see time and time again in Scripture is how God interrupts the plans of His children before using them to accomplish His greater plan for the world.
Mary, the mother of Jesus, had her life interrupted. She was a teenage girl on the brink of marrying a good man when an angel appeared to her with news: She was going to give birth to a son who would be God’s own Son. As days went by, we can only suspect that the future promise was overshadowed by her present reality. Walking through her village with a swollen belly, Mary would be humiliated.
And what about Moses? Moses, a Hebrew by birth, was raised as an Egyptian in the house of Pharaoh; he had access to wealth and power and prestige. But when Moses saw a Hebrew slave being abused, his eyes were opened to the suffering of His people. As God called Moses to leave the palace and deliver the Israelites out of slavery, his life as prince was drastically interrupted.
Because we have access to their full stories, we know that Moses led God’s people out of slavery, through the wilderness, to the destiny God had promised them. We know that Mary gave birth to the One who would liberate all of humanity. But at the start, their interruptions felt more like burdens than blessings.
When God stops the progress of our own plans with interruptions, He is often up to something. He is inviting us to pause our own plans in order to seek Him for His greater purpose.
This year, instead of asking God to bless the plans you have for your life, I challenge you to go about your new year in a different way:
First, offer God your dreams and desires. God cares about the details of your life and the longings in your heart, but His timing and way of fulfilling these voids in your life is different than your own. Putting your desires in God’s hands releases the authority of your own plans and allows Him to fulfill His greater purpose for your life.
Ask God to bless your time in the wilderness. Instead of asking the Lord to fulfill the plan that you envision for your life, I encourage you to seek Him during the interruptions. Ask the Lord what He wants to teach you during this season.
Listen for His voice. Ask the Lord if there are greater plans that He wants to reveal to you . . . and listen. Schedule time in your busy schedule to stop and listen to the voice of the Lord. Sit alone in a quiet room and listen closely. When you seek, He will speak!
The Lord interrupts our dreams because His plan is always greater than our own. When we offer our hours, days and years to Him, His blessing and faithfulness is sure to follow.
We’d like to hear from you. Please share your comments below or like us on your Facebook page. Be sure to check back each month for more articles and products available at your local Christian bookstore.