Trusting God in the Unexpected
Dena Johnson MartinDena Johnson is a former single mom to three amazing kids: Blake, Cole, and Cassie and wife to her high school friend, Roy. She strives to follow Christ each day and to lead her children to do the same. She delights in taking the every day experiences of life and turning them into biblical lessons for her children. Dena's daily prayer is simple: Lord, my life is yours. Live through me. Love through me. Parent through me. Let me decrease that you might increase. Dena is the founder of Dena Johnson Ministries, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people find beauty through the brokenness of this life. Her heart's desire is to use her own pain to point others to the power of God who redeems every hurt, every pain. You can contact Dena at Dena@denajohnson.com. You can also find her blog at Dena Johnson Ministries.
- 2019 May 07
One thing we should always expect is the unexpected. It seems that’s one thing we are guaranteed. Sometimes the unexpected is wonderful…and sometimes it is not.
This last week we were confronted with the unexpected. We have a situation we have been diligently trying to resolve for almost two years. For the last two months, we have been walking down one path, trying to reach agreement with the other party. Last week, an unexpected court date completely changed course and placed us in the exact opposite situation of what we had been working toward.
This unexpected change has thrown us for a loop. More than anything, the path we were on was a final resolution. It was not going to be easy. It was actually going to be excruciatingly painful. But, it would have meant ending the stress and chaos that has enveloped our lives for two years.
That’s what I am finding hardest about this unexpected path we are on. This change hits us in many ways. Financially. Relationally. So much more.
My mind and emotions have been all over the place in the last week as I try to come to grips with what this means for us. I’ve been working to prepare my kids for the changes. Roy and I are trying to find common ground and face this situation as a team to make sure it doesn’t come between us.
Finally, toward the end of last week, I reached one simple conclusion: I must learn to trust God in the unexpected.
I have come to realize that with each time we face this situation, with each thought about this situation, with each dollar spent on this situation…I must consciously choose trust in God. Trust in His provisions. Trust in His ways. Trust in His sovereignty. Trust in His plans for the future. Trust in His promises.
With each fear that crosses my mind, I utter a prayer. A prayer for God to give us strength. A prayer for God to do what only He can do. A prayer for unity. A prayer for peace. A prayer for the strength to forgive. A prayer for His love to shine through us. A prayer for vision to see what He is doing. A prayer for His perfect peace in the midst of the ongoing chaos.
A prayer for help trusting Him in the unexpected.
As I have contemplated how to trust God in the unexpected, I’ve found four words that are helping me.
1 Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
It is so easy to quote and yet so difficult to do. Casting all our anxiety on Him means we lay it at His feet…and we leave it there. If you are like me, it is really easy to go back and pick it up again, lugging that anxiety with me everywhere I go.
But that’s not what God wants from us.
He wants us to not just lay it at His feet. He wants us to cast it…toss it…throw it…to Him. Just as He throws our sins as far as the East is from the West, He wants us to throw our fears and anxieties so far and so hard that we can’t ever find them again. He wants us to lose them in His goodness and grace. He wants us to remember that He came to bear our burdens for us. He wants us leave these burdens for Him through prayer and thanksgiving so His perfect peace which surpasses all understanding can guard our hearts and our minds (Philippians 4:6-7).
And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. Mark 11:25
In this situation, we have been wronged and maligned. We have been made out to be horrible people. We have been the object of lies and insults. Truth has been twisted until we look like horrible, awful people.
And it is so incredibly easy to focus on these things.
But…I am not perfect. I have been forgiven much. It was my sins that put my Savior on the cross, crucifying Him. If He can love me enough to forgive me, then it is my responsibility to forgive these people who have wronged me.
The truth is, forgiveness sets me free. I look back at my life, at the moment I chose obedience to God and He allowed me to forgive “the other woman,” the one who had an affair with my husband. It wasn’t something I wanted to do, but I will never forget the peace that flooded over me as I walked away. That heavy burden of anger and bitterness melted away and I felt freedom for the first time in many months.
I want that freedom that comes with forgiveness.
But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, Matthew 5:44
I think I’ve said it repeatedly in the above paragraphs, but God really laid it on my heart to pray for the other parties in this mess. To ask Him to pour out His love on them. To ask Him to touch their lives and give them a hunger for Him. To ask Him to use me to be a light in their darkness.
If I’m honest, I don’t want to be those things. My human nature wants them to suffer. But I know that’s not what God wants. He wants me to see them as He does: as helpless, harassed sheep in need of a Savior.
So I ask God to give me eyes to see them as He does.
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:18-19
Honestly, I have no idea what God is doing. But I do know that God is good. I do know that He is never silent but always working. I know that He is working things for our good even when it seems life is falling apart. I know that when we make a mess of this life, He is always there making a way. I know when the unexpected happens, He wants us to forget the former things and trust Him to make something new.
With God, we are never without hope.
We can trust His character, knowing that above all He is a good God who loves us more than we could ever understand. We can believe His promises that all things do eventually work for good to those who love Him. We can cling to His promise that He has good plans for us, plans to prosper us and not to harm us. We can trust Him to one day have us put together and our feet for good.
It may not be today. Or tomorrow. Or next week. Or even next year. But we will see redemption. We will see Him repay the years the locusts have eaten. We will see His goodness in our lives.
Until then, we must cling to hope.
Lord, the unexpected. It sometimes strikes fear into us because we are human, prone to wander. Give us the strength to step forward into the new future you are planning for us. Be our strength in the midst of our weakness. Let your power and love pour through us as we strive to trust you in the unexpected. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.