When Life Takes an Unexpected Turn
by Cindi McMenamin
When life gets messy, it’s natural for us to get stressed. Or angry. Or bitter. Especially when life takes a turn we didn’t expect — a financial setback, the loss of someone we love, a diagnosis of cancer, the death of a dream.
The unexpected mess has happened in my life many times, like in these 3 instances…
- My daughter’s injury in high school cheer resulted in not one, but three ACL repair surgeries in the span of 15 months.
- My husband’s resignation from his ministry job to take a much-needed sabbatical resulted in several months of very tight finances and the occasional wondering if God was still there.
- And most recently, aging parents and their health problems and the emotional stress that places on an entire family.
But I’ve learned that most of the time that trouble comes, God wants to sharpen us, mold us, and transform us into something greater. He wants us to see a side of Himself that we haven’t yet seen. And He wants others to see the amazing things He can do in our lives when we trust Him with the mess. So we might as well respond the way He desires so we can get out of the mess, don’t you think?
As I was writing my book, When God Sees Your Tears, I realized there are lots of reasons to trust God when life takes a turn for the worse. The alternative to trust is stress. And stress kills, literally. So save your health, pass the test, and please God by trusting Him in the middle of the mess.
Here are seven reasons to trust God with your tears and not stress when you’re in the middle of the mess:
- God is more compassionate than you realize.
Psalm 56:8 tells us that God not only sees our tears, He collects them. That means my hurt and yours are more precious to Him than we can imagine. That kind of response from Him means He’s trustworthy to work our situation out for our best.
- Your situation didn’t take God by surprise.
Just because it caught you off guard, doesn’t mean that God was clueless, too. Psalm 139 tells us that God is familiar with all our ways — where we’ve been, what we’re doing now, and where we’re going. Before there is a word on our tongues, He knows it completely. So, trust what He already knows. True faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 12:1). So exercise true faith by being assured and convinced that God is in absolute control.
- God is much more capable of managing your life than you are.
We often believe we have the best solutions to our problems. In fact, there are times I’ve found myself suggesting to God what He ought to do in my particular situation. But Isaiah 55:8-9 assures us that His ways are higher than our ways, meaning His method and His timing in how He chooses to do things are so much better than ours. He is God and I am not. And that just might be what He’s trying to show you and me in the struggle we’re struggling to fix. So, plain and simple, give it to Him. He can handle it.
- God can, at any time, clear up the mess. So wait for His timing and learn all He wants you to learn in the moment.
Romans 8:28 assures us that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” But the next verse tells us how God works things for good in our lives: “ For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son….” There it is. God wants us to become more like His Son through our struggles. So be teachable. Be open to what He wants you to learn. And be moldable. You — and your heart — might be the one reason God has not yet fixed the situation.
- God is incapable of misunderstanding, mismanagement, or mistakes.
Deuteronomy 32:4 says “his works are perfect, and all his ways are just.” That means God doesn’t get it wrong. Ever. You and I, on the other hand, are fully capable of making an even greater mess of things. Quit your meddling and let Him work His miracle.
- God already has the problem solved.
Often we are looking for a certain resolution before we will consider our problem fixed. But God looks to the details of our intentions and our very hearts. It’s possible the problem still exists because He’s working on something inside you right now, and then He’ll take care of the exterior situation.
- A messy situation is one of the primary ways God awakens our need for Him, grows our dependence on Him, shapes our character, and draws us closer to Himself.
Life consists of messes. They are not always because you’ve done something wrong. Sometimes they just happen. And often He allows it because He wants to draw us into a deeper dependence on Him and show us a new side of Himself. Those are the things that make our messes meaningful — they draw us closer to our Savior. I love how James 1:2-3 tells us to “consider it all joy” when we encounter various trials, knowing the testing of our faith produces endurance. “And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (verse 4).
God can be trusted. And He wants you to know that. Lean into Him during this time and you will know what it means to “find meaning in the mess.”
Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker and award-winning writer who helps women and couples strengthen their relationship with God and with others. She has authored more than a dozen books including When a Mom Inspires Her Daughter, When God Sees Your Tears, When a Woman Overcomes Life’s Hurts, When Couples Walk Together (co-authored with her husband, Hugh), and Drama Free: Finding Peace When Emotions Overwhelm You. For more on her resources to help strengthen your walk with God, your marriage, or your parenting, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.