When life doesn’t go according to plan, and we’re able to fight off cynicism and practice gratitude in the middle of strife, we can have hope for tomorrow. We don’t need to be afraid of what’s around the corner. We can trust that God is at work and dream for tomorrow beyond whatever reality we’re in today. The plan may have gone out the window, but tomorrow might have an even better one. Just wait.
When life doesn’t go according to plan, we may not think so, but we have a choice to make. And that choice is less about what we’re going to do as it is about how we’re going to do it. We will be tempted to think God isn’t active in our lives, or possibly that God has it out for us. In so doing we become a victim that feels powerless, but ultimately that’s a place we decide to be. In even the moments that aren’t full of sunshine and rainbows, we can decide to hold on to gratitude instead.
When life doesn’t go according to plan, everyone else will have an idea as to why. Unfortunately, in our fragile state, we’ll often listen to them. We assume they’re right. But just because they sound right doesn’t mean they are right. In order to beat disillusionment, we have to be careful who we allow to say what. We have to take care in choosing what we hold on to as we make our way through the storm.
When life doesn’t go according to plan, it’s easy to fall into cynicism. We become ever more inclined to barricade ourselves in emotionally and assume the worst of most people and events in life. At some point, someone or thing let us down and we were left feeling vulnerable. So we come up with answers as to why things are the way they are; meaning for the madness. We blame. We point. We assume. Often however, we fail to see that we might be missing out on an opportunity to learn and grow.
There’s a truth out there that no one wants to admit is there. It’s the reality that life, at some point, will not go according to plan. Often, life stinks. It’s about time we admit that; whether we call ourselves a follower of Jesus or not, because God never promised that everything would always be easy and comfortable. He never promised that everything would go according to plan. So, what do we do when it doesn’t?
"Dad, why are those people wearing swimsuits and having someone dunk them under water?" "Mom, when the people pass those crackers and juice during the service, can I have some?" The practices of baptism and communion need some explaining for our kids to understand them. If we are honest, they need some explaining for us to understand them,too!
For many people, it's easy to get caught up in the routine of church. Our faith becomes mundane, the services boring and the messages repetitive. But what if we're missing the point of the church? What if it was less about the service and more about the people? After all, as Jesus built his community, it was anything but boring. In fact, it was full of party animals.
The most grieved thing in everyone’s life is not having or getting what they want. We’re far better at noticing the things on our list that we didn’t get than the countless things we did and actually needed. The Bible is full of promises; the least of which is God’s promise to give us what we need. When we start looking at life through that lens, we see we’ve been cared for in immeasurable ways. And while it may not be on our list of wants, we all want to be cared for. Is it possible that simple joy comes from being thankful for the simple things? Maybe that old cliche is cliche because it’s true, and gets repeated as a result.
If the truth be told, there are people all around us who have legitimate reasons to be joyless at Christmas time. As the end of the year approaches, they’re remembering their lost loved one, or their lost job, or their lost sense of value. All the while others are full of joy and have seemingly endless reasons to be so. What if there were a way to balance things out? What if those without joy of their own, learned how to take joy in the victories of others? And what if those with plenty of joy shared theirs with those around them? Maybe generosity is about more than money this time of year.
For many, Christmas is not the happiest time of year. It’s a season of being crushed under the weight of our circumstances. We take inventory of our marriages, or lack thereof, our bank accounts, our jobs, our homes and usually aren’t very excited about what we see. We fail to find joy in the holidays because we play victim to what’s happened to or around us over the last year. It doesn’t have to be that way; the holidays don’t have to be joyless this year. fWe just have to find joy in something other than our situation.