Has your life turned out the way you expected it would? Even if you are in the place that you expected to be in – did everything happen in the way that you planned for it to happen? I can pretty confidently say that the majority of us have had things happen to us in life that we weren’t anticipating. Quite often, some of these things are difficult circumstances that threaten to bloody us up a little bit.
I know that my husband and I have had many unexpected things happen to us in our 20 years of marriage. We have dealt with job loss many times… which is extremely scary when you are living on one income. One of our sons was born with some birth defects that threw me for a loop for a while. We’ve had health issues, family conflicts, and too many other things to list out here.
Life is hard!
Often, life is hard. God regularly works in ways that we can’t come close to understanding. I recently read a book called Undone: Making Peace with an Unexpected Life by Michele Cushatt which I highly recommend. Michele is a national speaker and blogger who has been dealing with cancer on and off since 2010. And not only has she been fighting cancer – she has had to have multiple spots removed from her tongue… and she has just completed a video series despite the fact that she had to press on her throat to speak due to having an open trach.
Life deals us some hard blows sometimes. Homeschooling can deal us some hard blows as well. We worry that we’ll ruin our kids… or that they’ll never be able to get a job. We see the true character of our kids because we’re together all day long – and sometimes that is a painful sight. We can’t blame the teacher or the schools if our boys are behind in their subjects. (Actually, we often blame the teacher – ourselves. Ouch!) We feel exhausted from dealing with sibling battles all day long.
Fortunately, when we are in the midst of a battle, we can be confident that God will show up and will fight for us. There are lots of verses in the Bible that talk about how it is the Lord’s battle, not ours. 2 Chronicles 20:15 says, “This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” I especially like Zechariah 4:6 which says, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.”
By My Spirit
When we’re having a rough day, God wants us to lean on Him and to depend on Him for strength. He also wants us to turn our problems over to Him. In her book, Michele says, “The day cancer showed up in my life, God showed up bigger.” She talks about how alone and afraid she was after first hearing about her cancer diagnosis and how she asked God to have someone show up who she could talk to. She ended up receiving a very unexpected phone call from the last person she would have expected to call her and that person prayed with her on the spot.
I know our family has had God show up in a big way when we’ve experienced hard times as well.
Over the years, as my husband was laid off over and over, we had so many amazing things happen to reassure us that God was in control. The first time he was laid off, we had just decided that I would quit my job to stay home with our oldest son. I was pregnant with him at the time and I had a really good career as a network administrator. Even with my husband working, our decision for me to give up my job would cut our income in half.
Our first thought was wondering if Dennis losing his job meant that God wanted me to stay at my job. Sometimes it’s hard to know whether the opposition is from God or not. We still felt strongly that we should stick with our decision despite the fact that it didn’t seem wise to give up the only income we had coming in at the time. But we decided to trust God and watch to see what would happen.
First, the company I was leaving decided to send me on maternity leave for 3 months before letting me go. That not only extended my full paychecks but it also extended our health insurance! Then, they decided to give me a severance package and to allow me to collect unemployment.
It took my husband about 6 months to find a job that first time. But the entire time we were covered by God’s generous provisions from my previous employer. When money got tight, we would randomly receive unexpected refunds in the mail from things such as previously overpaid medical bills or refunds. Our faith grew tremendously during this time. And my husband had the blessing of being able to be home with myself and our first newborn son for much longer than we ever would have imagined.
One Day at a Time Living
When times are tough, we are reminded of our intense need for God. In her book, Michele recommends one day at a time living to help us make it through the difficult days. She talks about the time when the Israelites were wandering in the desert and how they could only collect enough manna for each day. She said that we should live the same way.
Here are some tips for one-day-at-a-time living:
1 – Pray
Every morning, take the time to connect with our Savior. Place your burdens in His capable hands. Ask for the strength and wisdom you need to make it through that day. This is the most important thing you can do. Be sure you take the time to LISTEN as well as to talk.
2 – Trust
God won’t give us more than we can handle with His help! But He OFTEN gives us more than we can handle on our own! Remember whose battle this is and allow Him to work through you.
3 – Be thankful
It’s easy to focus on the difficult or the bad. Be intentional about noticing all of the good that is going on around you. Write these things down so that you can refer to them when you’re going through darker days. It’s easy to forget all the ways that God has worked in our lives. Reminding ourselves of how He has shown up in the past is extremely uplifting.
Michele said that after being diagnosed with cancer, rather than savoring each day with gratitude, she wanted a stockpile of reassurances about tomorrow. She said that in her fear of death she almost missed living. Wow, I can relate. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the fear and miss out on the sweetness of the homeschool life.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
As you’re dealing with difficulties this coming year, take a deep breath and remember that no matter how big our problems are our God is bigger. And if you’re looking for further encouragement, be sure to check out Michelle Cushatt’s book, Undone. I wish you all a wonderful year filled with all of God’s richest blessings.
Question: When things don’t go the way you expect them to, do you find it easy to trust God? Or is this an area in which you struggle? Please leave a comment below.