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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

A Change in Itinerary: Hope for the Journey

When April was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder, her life turned upside down. She took early medical retirement and her family’s financial security abruptly changed. They relocated and changed schools and churches. The unwanted changes were discouraging as family members adjusted in individual ways.

Marilyn woke up one morning married, but by the day’s end, she took on the new status of “widow”. Her unfamiliar path held heavy grief. A clouded brain made navigating new responsibilities and pressing solo decisions difficult. Drinking morning coffee alone now after having the company of her husband for 42 years, compounded loneliness.

April and Marilyn are not alone in life plans going off course. Perhaps you’ve had a front-row seat to altered plans. Life isn’t going as you thought; dreams are shattered.

At one time or another, we walk an unexpected itinerary. Covid-19 proved that to us. Sometimes our changed plans are inconvenient, and we adapt. We move forward and learn contentment in our Plan B.

At other times, life alterations are permanent. We adjust, or we don’t.

What makes the difference between living in disappointment and defeat versus living in and with hope?

When we live in a circumstance and travel an unexpected path we didn’t seek or want, we need to regain our footing and change our focus to move forward. It’s not easy to do when our eyes are filled with tears or we are distracted by thoughts of what could have been. But if we want to thrive, not merely survive, we need to live intentionally with hope. How can we do that?

  • When life doesn’t go as planned, and changes are hard and unexpected, we can trust the sufficiency of “His glorious grace” lavished on us for daily living (Ephesians 1:6-8 NIV). The apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthians encourages us that God’s power is strong for our weakness, and His sufficient grace equips us for our next step (2 Corinthians 9:8, 2 Corinthians 12:9).
  • When the path is disappointing and uncertain, you can trust the words of Ephesians 1:17-19 (NIV) and “ask that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.” He promises wisdom when we ask (James 1:5) and insight when we call (Proverbs 2:3-4).
  • When you are tempted to look back and lament, you can pray “that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you,” and “know His mighty power is active in our lives” (Ephesians 1:20 NIV). We are not traveling alone. He promises guidance over unfamiliar paths (Isaiah 42:16).
  • When we wrestle with shattered dreams, we can rest knowing God is working out His purposes for our best (Ephesians 1:11). The specific trial may not be pleasant or seem good, but God is weaving all together for our good (Romans 8:28). Perhaps that weaving is developing reliance on Him, refining our character, or spending more time in prayer.

Detours, roadblocks, and changes in our life itinerary may be unplanned and disappointing, but we don’t have to be stuck, looking in the rearview mirror. Instead, we can change our focus to God’s perspective.

We can rely on His wisdom, grace, and power to move forward. We may find something different, or more, than what we missed or what we lost. When we trust God, we can live in and with the power of hope.

Devotion adapted from Destination Hope: A Travel Companion When Life Falls Apart,  2021, Ambassador International Publisher, used with permission.

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