• Heidi J. Smith

When Life Doesn't Go the Way You Want

Photo credit to Li Yang from Unsplash

Have you ever been overwhelmed by life?

You envisioned your life a certain way, but the storms of life threw you off course. They pounded you like crashing waves and threatened to drown you. As you tried to catch your breath, more problems came.

Maybe you dream of a happy family, but infertility, death, or divorce haunt you. A loved one battles sickness, and you wonder if he or she will be ok. Maybe an estranged relationship weighs on you, and you long for restoration. Or you lost your job, and you wonder how you will pay your bills. Or you fill in the blank.

How can life be so different than we imagined?

In my life, I wonder why trials keep coming. Am I doing something wrong? Haven't I had enough pain and sadness in my life? God, do you really love me? Why are others blessed with easy lives? When does it get better?

The truth is everyone has problems. Some people sail through, while others sink. What is the secret to staying float during the storms of life?

Four truths to help us are in I Corinthians 10:13.

"No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." I Corinthians 10:13 ESV

First, PROBLEMS are ORDINARY. There are no new difficulties under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Someone somewhere has experienced your problems.

When trials bombard our lives, we feel alone. We may think, Why am I the only one experiencing this problem? How could this happen to me? How can I get through this? This is overwhelming!

But the truth is, someone somewhere has experienced our mess and made it through!

There is comfort in knowing that we aren't the only ones.

Second, GOD is FAITHFUL.

When we doubt if God loves, He does. When we wonder if He keeps his promises, He always has. When we don't know what to say, He knows our thoughts. When we wonder if He sees us, He saw us being knit together in the wombs (Psalm 139).

When we struggle with God's faithfulness, we can ask the Lord to make Himself real to us. We can pray specifically for comfort, search the Scriptures, and seek encouragement from our churches.

God is with us and will NEVER leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). The God of the universe is faithful!

Third, GOD knows our Limits.

When trials bombard our lives, they catch us off guard. They upset our normal patterns of life. We wonder how we will handle one more thing. Then another? Yet, God knows exactly how much we can handle. He allows problems to make us more like Him. They refine us and purge the impurities out of our lives (James 1:2-5).

As the Potter, God allows the storms of adversity to be the fire in our lives. He loving molds us to be like Him.

Finally, GOD provides the WAY out.

Notice God didn't promise a life free of difficulties, but He promises a way of escape through the storms. The way out may be removing the trial completely or giving us strength to endure it.

For example, when the Assyrian army surrounded the Israelites at Jerusalem, they prayed for deliverance. God answered their prayer by sending an angel to kill 185,000 soldiers in one night (2 Kings 19:35)! God rescued them from their enemy and removed their trial.

Another example is found in Daniel 3. When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to worship King Nebuchadnezzar's golden statue, the guards grabbed them and threw them into the furnace, but four men walked inside the fiery furnace! God came and saved them (Daniel 3:25).

But what if the trial continues, we grow weary and sometimes wonder if God sees us.

The apostle Paul prayed three times for God to remove his problem or his "thorn in the flesh," but God said, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is make perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV). Paul's way of escape was learning to lean on God's perfect strength until God gave him a new body.

We can take comfort that problems are temporary and God's strength is perfect.

So when life doesn't go the way we want, we can remember that trials are common to everyone. God is faithful. He will not give us more than we can handle, and He will provide a way to make it through.

As we toss and turn in the sea of adversity, may we have hope in God's faithfulness.

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Heidi J. Smith