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When Things Don’t Go Your Way

It didn’t start with the bird, but it didn’t help. The whole trip wasn’t going as planned. I got to the island and found out that one of the members was gone and the other was leaving. Also, if I didn’t mind, could I take care of their house and animals while they were away? The studies didn’t happen as frequently as I would have liked, and everyone seemed non-interested. It may seem like I am complaining, but wait. Then there was the bird. Our flight from the island to the mainland was delayed an hour because a bird hit the plane when it was landing. We had heard shotguns all week. We found out that they were to scare away the birds. Because of the delay, we missed our connection to Miami. This caused a cascading series of events that turned our 20-hour trip into a 36-hour trip. Things didn’t go my way.

I am not the first to have their plans interrupted. Jonah, fleeing from God, had his plans changed by a fierce storm and a sea creature. Nothing really went the way Jonah wanted. The disciples of Jesus were crossing the Sea of Galilea when a storm caused some delay. Their peril was to the point of perishing, one disciple thought. Yet, God worked things out. Paul was shipwrecked in Acts 27, through no fault of his own, and again God was there. I was not the first, and I will not be the last either. What does one do when things do not go our way?

We continue to be light set on a hill and an influence to those around us (Matt. 5:13-16). At no point can we just drop out of Christian mode to yell and fuss and “get our way.” That is how the heathen would act. When Jonah told the people he was with in the boat that it was his fault, that he should be thrown over, they hesitated but eventually obeyed. When the sea quieted, “then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows” (Jon. 1:16). Jonah had an influence on these heathen men.

Another option that is presented to us is despair. Oh, woe is me. Sometimes we are under the illusion that we are in control. Yes, we can make plans and have choices, but who is in control of the outcome? Not us! When the disciples were in the boat tossed by the waves and storm. Things were out of their control. “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing” (Mark 4:38)? Jesus calmed the storm and rebuked their lack of faith. They said, “Who then is this” (Mark 4:41)? Sometimes we forget Who is in control.

Paul was the example in the shipwreck. When their ordeal was at its darkest, Paul said, “keep up your courage, men, for I believe God that it will turn out exactly as I have been told” (Acts 27:25). He was the example he needed to be, he did not despair. When things don’t go your way, remember the bird and Who is in control (Matt. 6:26).