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Have you ever felt discouraged when things didn’t happen at the time or in the way you wanted it to? This post is all about how to trust God’s plan for your life.
When it comes to our own lives, we all like things to go our way.
Why wouldn’t we?
Most of us love ourselves enough to only want ‘good’ things in our lives, whether that means getting our dream job, becoming financially independent, being happily married, or being able to travel the world whenever we please.
Whatever it involves, we all have an idea of what our ideal life would look like.
And we don’t just have an idea — we also have a timeline to go with it.
So we don’t just want to get married, we want to get married at 25. And we don’t just want to be financially independent, we want to be financially independent before 30.
These are just examples, but I’m sure you can think of times you’ve done this in your own life.
You may be thinking, how is this wrong?
We think we know what’s best for us
Creating a plan for our lives is something we all do.
Is it wrong?
Having an idea of what we want our life to look like gives us goals to work towards. It motivates us, and when life gets difficult it gives us hope that things can get better in the future.
And we’ve all heard that life is short.
Creating some sort of timeline is our way of ‘ensuring’ we have enough time to have and to enjoy all the things we want to.
At least, that’s the way I think about it.
But there is a bigger reason behind all this life planning.
It all comes down to one thing:
We make plans for our lives because we think we know what is best for us.
And because of this simple fact, this plan and timeline often leave us feeling disappointed and discouraged.
While it is normal and natural to ‘plan’ our lives, our response when things don’t happen the way we think they should is oh so important.
How can we keep our spirits up when life seems to be going downhill?
God’s plan vs your plan
Whether you’ve experienced it only once or over and over and over — at some point we’ve all discovered that life doesn’t always go according to our plan.
God’s plan for your life may not be the same as your plan.
In fact, it most likely isn’t the same.
Sometimes the details are a little different and sometimes what happens is the total opposite of what you wanted.
Either way, I’m here to tell you that this isn’t a bad thing.
It’s easier said than done, but there’s no reason to feel disappointed or discouraged when things don’t go according to your plan.
And I’m saying all this from experience.
I too have made plans that didn’t happen in the way I wanted them to. Sometimes not even close.
But looking back, I can be thankful that they worked out in God’s way and not mine.
We can all feel better when things don’t go our way — happy about it even — when we take time to remind ourselves of who God is and how much He loves us.
Below are 8 helpful tips you can use to trust God’s plan even when it looks like everything is going wrong.
How to trust God’s plan for your life
1. Remind yourself of who God is
When learning to trust God in anything, your perception of Him is sooo important.
Who is God to you?
In his song Indescribable, Chris Tomlin says God is indescribable — there are so many qualities about Him that words just cannot describe.
But particularly when learning to trust His plan, there are some important characteristics of God that we need to remember.
When it comes to that timeline we like to create, we must remember that the God we serve has perfect timing.
He is never late and always on-time.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 says that God makes everything beautiful in its time. The ERV version says this:
“…And yet, he does everything at just the right time.”Ecclesiastes 3:11
While we may dream of achieving or experiencing something at a certain age or time, we can trust that the time God chooses for it to happen is the best time it ever could.
Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent
God is all powerful, all knowing and ever present.
Unlike us, He isn’t limited by strength, by knowledge, or by location –nothing is too big for God or too far out of His reach or expertise.
Ephesians 3:20 (NKJV) says that God is
“… able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think…”Ephesians 3:20
We can therefore trust that He is more than able to work out a good plan for our lives.
A loving Father
There are many verses that talk about God being our Father. One of my favorites of these verses is Matthew 7:11 NKJV:
“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”Matthew 7:11
This proves that God wants to give us good things — and that certainly includes His plan!
We can trust God’s plan knowing that what He wants for us is good.
These three important characteristics can be summed up to the fact that God is a loving and fully capable Father who creates perfect plans for our good that unfold at the perfect time.
2. Ask God what He wants
This is something I learned from the book ‘I heard God laugh‘ by Mathew Kelly.
It’s something I almost never do.
Maybe you are the same.
But in his book, Matthew Kelly says that we should take the time to ask God what He wants.
So many times we make plan after plan and consult everyone and everything except God.
We check the weather forecast, the car, our bank accounts, and our schedules.
We say: God please let this thing happen. Amen!
But we rarely stop to consider that what we plan may not want God wants for us.
It’s no wonder we get disappointed sometimes.
When making plans for your life, don’t forget to consult God.
Proverbs 16:3 says:
Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.Proverbs 16:3
Proverbs 3:5-6 says:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV)
These verses are just a few that remind us that we should consult God in everything we do.
How can we commit our plans to God?
It’s simple: Tell God your plans.
Tell Him and then invite Him to get involved.
When faced with a decision, you can say: “God please help me to make the right choice.“
Or “God, what should I do?“
When planning your day, week, etc, say something like: “Father, please guide me as I make plans for today/tomorrow/my life.“
Before you tell your plans to anyone else, purposefully tell them to God. And if your plans are a secret, let them be a secret to everyone except God.
You may not hear His voice telling you exactly what to do, but saying this is a request for guidance and God will grant that request.
You may have a sudden change of mind or discover a better alternative.
Or the one we hate to hear: Your first plan may completely crumble, pushing you in a new and better direction.
Isaiah 28:29 (NKJV) says that God is wonderful in counsel and excellent in guidance.
The ERV version says it plainly: God “gives wonderful advice.”
We can learn to trust God more by seeking His guidance in all things.
3. Read the promises
Another characteristic of God is that He is a promise keeper.
“So remember that the Lord your God is the only God, and you can trust him! He keeps his agreement. He shows his love and kindness to all people who love him and obey his commands. He continues to show his love and kindness through a thousand generations…”Deuteronomy 7:9 ERV
This verse says that God not only keeps His promise, but He keeps it to everyone who loves and obeys Him for a thousand generations.
Sometimes I forget promises I’ve made after just a few days!
But God doesn’t forget and He doesn’t break His promises.
And because we know that about Him, reading and memorizing key promises in the Bible is a great way to learn to trust Him more.
What promises does God make to us in the Bible?
According to Clint Byars in his book, over 3000 promises.
Isn’t that amazing?
That’s at least eight for every day of the year!
Here are just a few of these Bible promises:
- Jeremiah 29:11
- Romans 8:28
- Matthew 11:28-29
- Philippians 4:19
- Proverbs 1:33
- Romans 10:9
Know some others? Comment your favorites below!
Ever heard the phrase: let go and let God?
It means that we should stop trying to figure things out on our own and let God be in charge.
It’s about recognizing that God is wiser than we are, so His plan should supersede ours.
In Matthew 26, we see that even Jesus does this. Moments before He was arrested, beaten, and then put to death, Jesus fervently prayed this prayer:
“O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”Matthew 26:39
Although He knew the pain and suffering that lay ahead, Jesus was willing to submit to God’s plan.
Can you imagine what life would be like otherwise?
Like Jesus, we should also submit to God’s plan.
As I mentioned before, we should tell God our plans, but then we should submit.
How can we submit to God’s plan?
After we present our plans to God, we could say something like: “God, this is what I want, but let your will be done.“
This verbal acknowledgment of your submission to God’s plan changes everything.
Suddenly, you become conscious of two important points:
- Yes things may not unfold at the time or in the way you want it to
- And if they don’t, it’s because God has something better in store.
These two points will mentally prepare you for whatever the future holds.
When you purposefully submit to God and things don’t unfold the way you imagined or desired, disappointment doesn’t weigh down the same, because you know that God has a better plan for your life.
5. Focus on the present
Whenever you think things aren’t going as you planned, it is normal to feel disappointed or even discouraged at first.
But you shouldn’t dwell in that state of mind for too long.
Instead, take time to observe your present situation.
Ask yourself: what is God calling me to do right now?
This is something I learned from a presentation by Priscilla Shirer and it changed my life.
It’s what led me to continue this blog as a fully Christian blog, to focus on doing well at school, and to be grateful for where I am and what I have now.
Sometimes we can feel stuck.
We imagined our lives would turn out differently and we want to move past our present situation to want we hope would be a better future.
Been there, done that.
But very often, God allows us to be in certain situations so we can meet people and learn lessons that would be vital to what He has planned for us.
So don’t get so caught up in the future.
Ask yourself questions like:
- What can I do now?
- Who can I help?
- What am I ignoring?
- What might God be trying to teach me?
These questions will help you to focus on the present and thrive even in your current situation.
6. Read testimonies & Bible stories
You can learn to trust God’s plan more by reading testimonies and Bible stories where God came through (as He always does) for other people.
This is a great way to remind yourself that God is able and that His plan AND His timing are for your good.
Some great Bible passages to read are the stories of:
- Abraham and
- the Lineage of Jesus
But maybe you may feel that you can relate better to people living in more modern times.
You can find testimonies in books, in videos, online forums, by reading the biographies of pastors and gospel songwriters, and by asking family and friends who are willing to share.
Regardless of what testimony or story you come across, you’d be amazed to find that some people have experienced the very same thing you are going through now.
God is just as mighty as He was then, and He loves you the same.
He will see you through.
7. Consider the bigger picture
Just a few days ago, my aunt passed away after a long and difficult battle with breast cancer.
It was very hard to understand.
I prayed, our family prayed, friends prayed and even persons outside the family prayed… people all over the world.
And yet, she did not make it.
I think death is one of the hardest things to cope with, especially when it is close to home. It is very difficult to trust God’s plan after losing someone you loved and cared about.
And it’s not easy to deal with the idea that there was a plan in their death in the first place.
Whether they passed away suddenly or after a period of sickness, it never ever feels fair.
We have questions like:
- How can God have a plan in death?
- What good can come out of grief?
- Out of my grief?
And when we hear of others who survived, we can’t help but ask: Why did my loved one have to go?
I don’t know the answers to these questions because they are my questions too.
How to trust God’s plan in the midst of loss
Although it can be hard, there are two things that help me to keep on trusting God in the midst of loss.
- God is still good
- To think of the bigger picture
First of all, God is always good.
And although it may feel like it, the death of a loved one doesn’t mean He turned His back or He stopped caring.
Please don’t think so!
To us, life on Earth can seem like the most important because this is all we know. But God has a plan bigger than our Earth and a plan that goes beyond the grave.
1 Thessalonians 4:17 says:
“After that, we who are still alive at that time will be gathered up with those who have died. We will be taken up in the clouds and meet the Lord in the air. And we will be with the Lord forever.”1 Thessalonians 4:17 ERV
We will always miss our loved ones here on Earth, but we can look forward to a time when we will see them again in a place where there is no sadness and no suffering forever and ever.
That is the bigger, better picture.
I plan to do another post about death, but in the meanwhile, I hope this little section helped.
God inspired me to add this at the last minute, and I hope it can help you to trust His plan even in the face of death.
Last, but certainly not least.
Reflection is a really great way to learn how to trust God’s plan.
Let me tell you why.
It is only in hindsight that we realize that things worked out exactly the way they were supposed to.
Every event — the good ones and the bad ones, every so-called disappointment and challenge — they all lined up in a perfect way for a perfect reason.
It’s only when we think back that we can thank God that things didn’t happen the way we first wanted them to.
For this reason, it’s important that we reflect on our lives and all the moments that lined up to our prayers being answered — not necessarily as we hoped — but in the perfect way that they needed to be answered.
Whenever things don’t seem to be working out, take time to reflect on a moment where God worked everything out perfectly, even when it all seemed to be heading south.
It’s is normal and natural to make plans for our lives.
But these very same plans can lead us to be discouraged and disappointed when they don’t happen in the way we hoped… or at all.
Regardless, learning to let go of these plans and to trust God’s plan isn’t always easy — it takes a lot of trust.
By using the tips above, we can learn to trust God’s plan, knowing that it is bigger and better than we could ever imagine.