I recently saw an old news broadcast from 1970 that was reporting about a 45-foot whale that had died and washed up on the beach. The longer it lay on the beach, the more the stench of this rotting whale filled the air, and people began to flee the area. Local officials knew they needed to find a way to quickly remove this eight-ton behemoth from the beach. Because the whale was too large to move in one piece, they developed a plan to use sticks of dynamite that would shatter the whale into tiny pieces.
Dozens of people in the community came to watch as the officials stuffed twenty cases of dynamite underneath the carcass and prepared for the explosion. What they didn’t anticipate was that any of the present witnesses needed to immediately flee the scene as large pieces of whale blubber fell from the sky, pummeling people and nearby vehicles! I like the statement from one of the reporters who said, “Wow! Now that certainly didn’t go as planned!”
I have found myself repeating that same sentiment many times throughout this past year. I would guess many of us would look at this year and agree that very little went as we had initially planned. Yet God is never taken by surprise!
I once heard a clever statement: “Has it ever occurred to you that nothing ever occurred to God?” It’s funny yet true. God was not surprised by the events of this past year, nor was He unaware of the difficulties you may have endured. In the scriptures we see the promise that He has been with you every step of the way. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)
I find it good practice to look back and acknowledge how God has been with me when things didn’t go as I had initially planned. When I look back on the past year especially, I am able to clearly see how God has provided for my family and our church, to thank Him for His mercies that were new each morning and to reflect on His goodness in the midst of chaos. When things haven’t gone as planned, I can look back and see that God was with us, unsurprised, walking with us through it all.
Hopefully, acknowledging God’s presence with us and His goodness when things haven’t gone as planned will help us to trust Him and His perfect plan for us in the days ahead.