Responding to the Unexpected

There are many times in life that we have done our best to plan, prepare, and execute a task, but things don’t go according to plan. Planning and preparation are normal things to do; the Bible even says where there is no vision, the people die (Proverbs 29:18). In one sense, planning gives us a feeling of control; it allows us to feel like we have done all we can do to prepare for an event or outcome. However, this post is not about trying to plan your life better or even to encourage you to buy a daily planner. No, this is about what happens when everything in your life changes in an instant - that moment when you had your best plans all laid out, but suddenly circumstances change and your plans shatter. It does not matter the reason why things have changed, but only that they are now different. Some people handle these changes well and others of us have a harder time trying to grasp the new direction that must take place. 

For me, this happened a few days ago. My beautiful wife is pregnant with our first child, a gorgeous girl (at least that’s what the doctors tell me when they look at the blob on the ultrasound machine…). She is due August 8th and we have been preparing for this date for 7 months; we have bought all the clothes, toys, diapers, a crib, and finally a new home for her to live in! We are beyond excited and have seen God work in some miraculous ways through both the home buying experience and pregnancy. However, the house we bought needs some work. We planned and budgeted our time wisely and have been moving right along with all indicators pointing towards the house being completed before the arrival of our daughter. 

This is the point in my story when everything changes. One day last week, my wife didn’t quite feel right and we decided to go to the hospital to get things checked out. We quickly learned after another unexpected hospital visit that our sweet girl is coming three weeks sooner than we planned for. This is the point in my story, and maybe similarly in your story, where we have two options. We can either, one: begin to panic and become frustrated, fearful and angry at our circumstances (and maybe even at God) or two: we can pray for peace to take root in our hearts immediately and begin to ask God for help and a new plan for this unforeseen reality (John 14:27).

If you are anything like me, option one tends to be my gut reaction. I let my circumstances and my choices dictate if I am at peace or not. Now, I am not dismissing the feelings that occur from circumstances changing suddenly; oftentimes we need to mourn what "could have been." However, this is a reminder for a mindset check as to which option you first turn to. You see, when we got the news that our baby was going to come three weeks early, the whole time I was focused on the wrong thing. I was focused on how much work I had to do on the house and how I was going to make all the logistics fall into place in my power. Instead, my reaction should have been a reliance on the Holy Spirit to give me peace in the midst of unexpected circumstances. The Lord reminded me that uncertain times in life feel extremely overwhelming and unsettling when I rely on my own power, but when I let Him lead the way, He offers a sense of peace and sustains me through all of the changes and uncertain times (Joshua 1:9). 

We see this theme of peace in the midst of chaotic times over and over throughout the Bible, so why do I think my God wouldn’t do the same for me and you, his sons and daughters? If you are in a similar situation of having to change the plans you created, first, take specific time to pray through your situation. Pray about the emotions and thoughts you are having and pray for the strength to listen to the leading of the Spirit. Second, know that you are not alone. God reminds us throughout His word that He is always with us. I know that God is in control and wants me to lean on Him for guidance and direction in my life. When we neglect to seek the Lord for our plans we will always miss what God has for us along the journey, but when we choose to rely on His hand through our unexpected circumstances, we find peace where chaos would have otherwise resided.