When Life Lets You Down, Trust God’s Plan B
What do you do when life doesn’t work out like you’ve planned? Whether you’re young or old, man or woman, black or white, rich or poor – the fact is, life often doesn’t turn out the way you thought it would. Suddenly you need a “Plan B.”
Even those who are ultra-strong, spiritual giants sometimes experience the need for a Plan B:
His name was Saul of Tarsus. He was a leading member of the Sanhedrin, powerful and well respected. One day as he was on his way to Damascus to arrest Christians, his life took an unexpected turn. He found himself knocked to the ground and having a stunning conversation with the Christ he didn’t believe in. He was in desperate need of a Plan B, because life didn’t work out the way he had planned.
His name was Moses. He was born to Hebrew slaves but raised as the son of Pharoah’s daughter. One day, life took an unexpected turn when he was caught murdering an Egyptian man who was abusing a Hebrew slave. In an instant, he went from the lap of luxury to a fugitive on the run, seeking a place to hide. He needed a Plan B, because life didn’t work out the way he had planned.
His name was Peter. He was well-known to be Jesus’ right-hand man, destined to carry the gospel message to future generations. He walked on water, was chosen for Christ’s inner circle, and bravely raised a sword in His defense. But then life took an unexpected turn. Instead of standing by Jesus’ side, he crumbled and denied even knowing Him, and his vision of leadership in the Kingdom went up in smoke. He found himself in need of a Plan B, because life didn’t work out the way he had planned.
What about you? Has life ever made an unexpected twist or turned out differently than you had imagined?
- The company lays you off.
- The business you invested in collapses.
- Your spouse says they don’t love you anymore and are leaving.
- The doctor says it’s cancer.
- The teenager you raised in church gets arrested.
- The loved one you held up in prayer died anyway.
What do you do when life doesn’t work out the way you’ve planned? Most people start asking questions, like:
Why me, and why now? Why play by the rules, if this happens anyway? Why go on – after all, my dreams are totally shattered now! And of course, Why didn’t You do anything about it? Why God?
Have you ever experienced a “why” moment? A moment when life didn’t turn out the way you thought it was going to and took a turn for the worse. Did you question God? If so, you would be in good company:
“Moses returned to the LORD and said, ‘O Lord, why have you brought trouble upon this people? Is this why you sent me? Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble upon this people, and you have not rescued your people at all’” (Exodus 5:22-23).
“How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” (Psalm 13:1).
“About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ — which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’" (Matthew 27: 46).
Get Real with God
Was Moses spiritually immature? Or David, or Jesus? Asking “why” isn’t an indictment; in fact, if you don’t ask why, you might wind up estranged from God.
God expects us to be real with Him. He is not looking for some phony, Sunday-morning-only relationship. God desires an intimate, authentic, transparent relationship with us, where we trust Him enough to be real with Him. And just like any close relationship, if you don’t deal with the “why” questions, it brings communication to a screeching halt.
Maybe the reason some people don’t feel like praying, don’t feel like lifting their hands in worship, don’t feel like reading the Bible or getting involved in a small group is because they have an unasked and unresolved “why” that is damaging their relationship with God.
Remember, God can handle our whys. In other words, God can handle our questions, and even our anger. It won’t threaten Him, diminish Him or embarrass Him. In fact, it won’t even surprise Him, for the Bible declares He already knows the secrets of our hearts! (Psalms 44:21)
"'Come. Sit down. Let's argue this out.' This is God's Message: 'If your sins are blood-red, they'll be snow-white. If they're red like crimson, they'll be like wool'" (Isaiah 1:18, MSG).
So if you have questions only God can answer, go to Him – He can handle it. Your relationship will deepen because of it. Besides, asking God why prevents the enemy from giving you the wrong answer.
Even with all the benefits, what we eventually must realize is that “why” is actually the wrong question!
Asking the Wrong Question
“Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’" (John 9:1-2).
Notice the type of relationship the disciples had with Jesus: if they were confused about something they simply asked Him about it. And one of the most confusing things on the planet is why people are sometimes born with handicaps and diseases. But notice Jesus’ response:
“Jesus answered, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him’” (John 9:3).
Translation: you’re asking the wrong question.
He doesn’t get mad at them; He tells them exactly what we need to know about the why question – it’s simply the wrong question.
“’I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.’ When He had said these things, He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay. And He said to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’ (which is translated, Sent). So he went and washed, and came back seeing” (John 9:4-7).
Even though asking why is normal and maybe necessary to some extent, the right question is…God, how?!
Isn’t that what Jesus did? He redirected the disciples’ attention to look instead at what God can do in the situation, not why the situation exists.
In other words, sometimes in life we may not get all the whys answered, but in the face of our doubts, fears, confusion and pain, we need to turn to the source of our help and look to what God can do!
Not only can God open blind eyes, unstop deaf ears, make the lame walk and heal the broken hearted, He can restore failing marriages, rescue us from financial ruin, wipe away your past and give you hope for your future. And He is perfectly capable to set into motion Plan B when your life doesn’t work out the way you’ve planned!
But how do you look instead to what God can do, when you’re tempted to get bogged down in the “Why God?” instead of the “How God?”
Remember What God Is Like
In Psalm 77, we see a Psalm written by Asaph, whose life wasn’t working out like he thought it would. Asaph was in a season of extreme disappointment, and apparently felt that God was being unresponsive, and not recognizing his pain or his needs in life. It appears he felt completely broken. And so he get’s real with God, and writes:
“I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me. When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands and my soul refused to be comforted. I remembered you, O God, and I groaned; I mused, and my spirit grew faint. Selah. You kept my eyes from closing; I was too troubled to speak. I thought about the former days, the years of long ago; I remembered my songs in the night. My heart mused and my spirit inquired: ‘Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again? Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time? Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?’ Selah” (Psalm 77:1-7).
Now, Asaph doesn’t tell us what disappointment caused him to ask God why, but it had apparently pushed him to the brink of hopelessness and even loss of faith. But he went to the right source with his doubts, questions and concerns. Despite his pain, he went to the God of compassion and understanding.
If you don’t remember anything else, remember this – God is good, all the time!
Remember Moses talking with God on Mount Horeb. He said, God, I don’t want to just talk to a voice anymore. God I want to see you.
“And the LORD said, ‘I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence’” (Exodus 33: 19).
In all of our lives, when things don’t work out the way we’ve planned, we must remember who God is, so we can exchange our whys for hows and experience victory!
Recall What God Has Done
This is exactly what Asaph, a worship leader for King David, did, according to Psalm 77. He recalled miracles God performed in the past, specifically the deliverance of His people by parting the Red Sea.
“You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples. With your mighty arm you redeemed your people, the descendants of Jacob and Joseph. Selah. The waters saw you, O God, the waters saw you and writhed; the very depths were convulsed” (Psalm 77:14-16).
When you begin to recall what God has done, your faith begins to build, you believe and know that if God did it before, He will do it again, and that there isn’t any problem too big for God.
Rest in God’s Plan B
As Asaph recalled how God saved His people, surely the whole story rushed through his mind, including how Israel got to the other side of the Red Sea and then turned their backs on God. Instead of making it into the Promised Land in about thirty days, the people then wandered in the desert for forty years.
Then the time had come to cross into the land. Imagine the excitement as Joshua gave them the final instructions to follow the priests over the Jorden into the land. But the Israelites soon discovered Joshua had left out one tiny, important detail – it was harvest season and the Jordan River was at flood stage. In great disappointment, they must have said Why, God? Things did not turn out how we expected. But God is good and He had a plan – another miracle!
“…as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away…So the people crossed over opposite Jericho” (Exodus 3:15-16).
When the people were busy asking why God, He was doing a miracle far upstream that they did not know about. When they thought God was silent and unresponsive, He was putting a plan into motion. When life hadn’t worked out the way they had planned, God was ready with Plan B
So don’t be discouraged! When you are tempted to get caught up in Why God, remember what He is like, recall what He has done, and rest in His Plan B. He won’t disappoint you!
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/PeopleImages
Frank Santora is Lead Pastor of Faith Church, a multi-site church with locations in Connecticut and New York. Pastor Frank hosts a weekly television show, “Destined to Win,” which airs weekly on the Hillsong Channel and TBN. He has authored thirteen books, including the most recent, Modern Day Psalms and Good Good Father. To learn more about Pastor Frank and this ministry, please visit www.franksantora.cc. Photo by Michele Roman.