Sometimes, life is completely NOT what you expect. I can't even tell you how many times I've witnessed this in so many different ways in the lives of those around me-- as well as my own from time to time. It may be silly little things, like finding an unexpected and unwelcome bill in your mailbox or a child throwing a fit over something that they've never minded before. Sometimes though, it is an event that is totally and utterly life-changing. Losing one's job, a pregnancy that ends in miscarriage, the loss of a child or spouse, a marriage that falls apart in what seems the blink of an eye. And sometimes, it is the things that don't happen that throw us a loop and cause us grief-- the children one can't conceive, promotions that never come, the offer that doesn't get made even though everyone thought it would.
Thankfully, these loops aren't really loops at all. Instead, they are Providences of God, perfectly planned and orchestrated in His will, before time even began, to work out for our good and His glory. He knows what is best for us, even when it seems like He has snatched something good out of our lives. He loves us in all circumstances, no matter what they may be-- and He will always, always give us the grace that we need to deal with whatever He sends our way. It is ours for the asking.
I am so extremely comforted by the fact that those I love most dearly know these truths and can cling to them through every circumstance. It makes me so grateful to see, time and again, the Lord working out His plan in these people's lives and sustaining them while in the midst of their struggles. Not once, even though some circumstances have been a bit (okay, a lot) "loopier" than expected, has He failed to do what He has promised. And I can honestly say that the people in my life have amazed me time and again with their strength, faith, and trust. Praise God for that.
One thing that I try to remember, and sometimes don't, is the "big picture". It's easy to get upset about things, even those silly little things. It's in our human nature to be upset when things don't go the way we would like them to-- and that's ok, to a certain extent. But when I think about what we who are Christians have to look forward to, it helps me to realize how very trivial some things really are. We have heaven! We have eternal life! However much there may be of suffering or pain, nothing can take that away. It is this truth that enabled men like Stephen to face pain and death with hardly a qualm. Surely it can encourage and strengthen us too, in whatever may come.
Life is a journey, and it is sometimes an incredibly bumpy, twisty, turny road that we travel. We don't know what is ahead or where our paths lie. But oh, what a Guide we have. I can ask for no more than that, and all the comfort that comes with it. For me, for my loved ones, for every one who trusts.
"There fore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your cares upon Him, for He cares for You." ~1 Peter 5:6-7
"I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer making request for you all with joy... being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ." ~Philippians 1:3-6
"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." ~Romans 8:28
"And He said to me, ' My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness,'... Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong." ~2 Corinthians 12: 9-10
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and mind through Christ Jesus. " ~Philippians 4:6-7
"You will keep Him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for in the Lord is everlasting strength." ~Isaiah 26:3-4
"The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those hope in His unfailing love." ~Psalm 147:11
"Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ." ~1 Peter 1:13
... and about a million and one other scriptures that speak of all these things. These are just a few that I keep coming back to. The Bible is so rich with comfort and truth! It IS comfort and truth...