What do you do when God doesn’t show up the way you thought He would? That’s the question on the front of a book given to me by a friend… I haven’t met yet. A dear friend I love praying and spending time with shared my story with her friend. He gave her a book, “Plan B”, that helped him through a tough time with hopes it would do the same for me.
“Plan B” has been an amazing summer read that’s waited by my bedside and kept me company on the beach. Chapter by chapter, healing is stitching my heart back together as I join the author in choosing to believe that Plan B’s can bring peace and promise. Many reading this week’s story have embraced Plan B’s in your lives with precious memories of yesterday prevailing; yet, a yearning for things to be the way they should while making new memories (and that is possible). With a strong faith and grit to go forth, let us choose to believe that one day faith will win over doubt, light will win over darkness, love will win over hate, and all things will be redeemed and exist the way they should.
In the meantime…when Plan A comes to an abrupt stop, we are wise to embrace Plan B! The reality that drastic changes alter our plans in life can come in the form of sickness or even death – a scary diagnosis, a divorce or separation, an accident resulting in hospital beds and IVs, the loss of a close friend or family member, a difficult church experience, a financial disaster, or a time when life just falls apart with no explanation. The dreams we held to and worked for with childlike faith suddenly slip through our fingers. What do we do? Does anyone understand? Where is God?
Shattered dreams come when least expected leaving us to wonder if we are too broken and bruised to be healed by God. Everyone has broken dreams and all of us need healing. The Bible is full of stories about people whose plans didn’t work out. They needed hope in the middle of a Plan B. Two of my favorites are Joseph and Job. When I feel overwhelmed and out of sorts, with little desire to make lemonade from lemons, I look up their stories in the Good Book and read to my heart’s content. Joseph knew he had an amazing Plan A, sharing it openly with his brothers while showing off his coat of many colors. Yet, when he encountered many Plan B’s as he journeyed from the pit to the palace, he accepted them and remained faithful to God.
Job was taken through the wringer. He lost it all but did not sin or blame God (Job 1: 20-22). As sad as Job was, he bowed down and worshipped God when Plan A was wiped away. “I was naked when I was born, and I will be naked when I die. The Lord gave these things to me, and he has taken them away. Praise the name of the Lord.”
I always feel better realizing that I am not alone, that people from all generations have wondered what to do when Plan B hits home, and that God is the One who brings good from the bad for those who believe and seek His plans in the midst of heartache and suffering seasons of sadness.
David, a man after God’s heart, understood the reality of Plan B’s. He enjoyed success and endured defeat. In those painful situations, David must have felt God was a millions miles away. Have you ever felt that way? I have. David wrote about times like that in Psalm 42. “I thirst for the living God. When can I go to meet with him? Day and night, my tears have been my food. People are always saying, ‘Where is your God?’ When I remember these things, I speak with a broken heart.”
Do you (do I) speak with a broken heart? Are we responding to our current circumstances with a confidence that God is there. God is there; He is always there. We must never let things we go through, tough circumstances and suffering seasons, distance us from our Lord and loved ones or distort our perspective. If we allow that to happen, we can miss God.
So, what do we do when God doesn’t show up the way we thought He would? I don’t know about you, but I keep trusting and knowing that He will take care of me through all the plans He has for my life. And when pity creeps into those tiny crevices that keep crying out “why?” I simply remember my favorite things (good parents and siblings, good marriages with two good men, healing from cancer, an amazing blended family, teaching His children over four decades, a Christian daycare to keep kids on the right track, my church, Tim’s Gift – a ministry to give help and hope, good health, happiness, and a heavenly Father who loves me, promises to heal my broken heart, and gives me opportunities every day to share the good news of His love everywhere I go) and…then I don’t feel so bad!
God may not show up the way we thought He would, but His timing is perfect, His ways and thoughts are higher, and He knows what we need. He understands Plan B’s aren’t always easy to embrace and will always be there through each experience. Though our tears may fall during the night…He brings joy in the morning!
Becky Spell Vann is a long-time columnist for The Sampson Independent’s Faith & Family section and owner of the outreach ministry Tim’s Gift.