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How do You Cope When Your Plans are Changed?

James 4:13-15

Some of you say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to some city. We will stay there a year, do business, and make money." But you do not know what will happen tomorrow! Your life if like a mist. You can see it for a short time, but then it goes away. So you should say, "If the Lord wants, we will live and do this or that."

We have all made plans, looked back on our lives and wondered where the years have gone. We have looked at where we are now, and asked God, "Whatever happened to my plans to do this or that?" "How did my life come to be like this?" "I never thought I would ever have to deal with this or that." At some point in our life, we face the uncomfortable truth: life never goes according to our plans. We can dream, we can set goals, make vision boards, save money, make wise decisions, but nothing will ever turn out exactly how we wanted.

Ecclesiastes 9:5

The living know they will die, but the dead know nothing. Dead people will have no more reward, and people will forget them.

Our lives are truly gifts from God; a short life here on earth is promised us, and sometimes, God chooses to impart grace on some with years beyond what God gives to others. The questions is not whether or not we will receive that grace of extra years on earth, but what we will choose to do with years we are given when our plans become broken dreams? The end result will be the same for us all: we will one day look death in the face right before we reach our eternal destination. With the precious time we are given, what choices will we make when our life goals are unexpectedly interrupted? A painful step is necessary when we are moving forward: we will either learn from circumstances, or become victims of our circumstances.

Ecclesiastes 9: 12

Time and chance happen to everyone. No one knows what will happen next. Like a fish caught in a net, or a bird caught in a trap, people are trapped by evil when it suddenly befalls them.

More times than we would like to remember, we face circumstances which are completely unexpected, and some out of our control. Sudden death of a loved one, financial emergencies, an unfaithful spouse, or deception by someone we thought we could trust. It happens to all of us. It is in these unexpected change of plans where immediate decisions are made, sometimes in great haste, or not soon enough. These are the situations that become valuable assets where our faith in Christ is concerned. While each of us may respond to life's interruptions differently, God's children must all respond in faith. The greatest exercise of our salvation is put on exhibit to the world by how we respond to any given circumstance, whether in or out of our immediate control. The spiteful eyes of the world are watching to see exactly how one who serves Christ handles life when in the midst of uprooting circumstances.

Philippians 4: 11-13

...I have learned to be satisfied with the things I have and with everything that happens. I know how to live when I am poor, and I know how to live when I have plenty. I have learned the secret of being happy at any time in everything that happens...I can do all things through Christ because He gives me strength.

In all of life's uprooting, we have the choice as Christ's followers to make a decision to be joyful and wait upon the Lord. When life throws the next curveball that changes our plans, we can either choose to wallow in our misery and self-pity, or we can open up God's Word, give God praise for what He has planned, and keep on moving. While the direction we go may change frequently and unexpectedly, walking amidst the shadow of an Almighty Savior is the only sure way to show the world our decisions are based solely on the Word of God who guides us. Yes, there will be plenty of mistakes on our part, but also many learning experiences where we can choose to allow God to give us the victory, even where we mess up.

Jeremiah 29:11

"I say this because I know what I am planning for you," says the Lord. "I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you. I will give you hope and a good future."

The greatest part in knowing there is still hope when our hopes and dreams seem to vanish, is the new hope we allow God to show us, when we let go of the reigns in our short lives, and grab hold of God's hand to lead us through the next tough change in plans. God never promises in His Word that everything will go our way, but He does promise to give us guidance and clear direction if we allow Him to do the leading.

-Melanie Herren

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