Spiritual Growth and Encouragement for Christian Women

When Life is Harder than You Expected

When Life is Harder than You Expected

I have a great, big imagination that I thank God for because it brings immense creativity to my life. However, there is a downside to it. I can see a lot of wonderful scenarios happening in my future. Some of which give me a direction to walk toward and may even be from God. But others may simply be of my own mind and not a plan for my future. I can want a lot of things that may not actually be the best for me.

God seems to sort through the multiple scenarios that get caught in my head. Some of them may come to be and some of them won’t. The expectations that aren’t from God will dissipate over time. The ones that are from God will grow over time. This growth requires patience, faithfulness, and even self-control. God uses trials in life to grow this fruit in my life. Not everything that I can dream will come to fruition. Life is harder than I expect. And this is a good thing.

A good thing? How can that be?

Jesus said, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). 

He doesn’t say to enjoy the trials. He knows that a lot of them will be sorrowful. But when I see them, I can take heart (or be encouraged) that Jesus has overcome them by giving me the ability to withstand those disappointments and go forward to something better.

Jesus overcomes these obstacles of disappointment by using them to grow my faith and dependence on Him. The more I see my botched expectations, the easier it is to go in the exact direction that God planned for me all along. 

Disappointments in life are tests that help me to develop my “God sight.” If something doesn’t turn out like I expected, it’s an opportunity to see a little bit more of God’s plan. Seeing what doesn’t work helps me to see what does. Of course, sometimes it’s my own stubbornness that causes me to have to learn things the hard way, and the hard way almost always contains disappointments.

But… Jesus has overcome all of this! He gives me the strength every day to make new choices when my initial expectations don’t work out.

My growth in the areas of patience and faithfulness leads to strengthened endurance. James 1:4 says that when my endurance is fully developed, I will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. Doesn’t that sound wonderful? But perfect, complete, and not needing anything doesn’t mean independent. Independence and my pride is what gets me into a lot of trouble—that’s my before picture. My after picture (or at least the one that I am striving for) is one of complete and utter dependence on God and this is how I become complete and whole.

Jesus’ death and resurrection overcame the world’s evil and gave believers like me the strength to overcome my trials and problems. I overcome by living a different way—His way—instead of my own way.

But then there’s another problem. Life isn’t just hard when I do things my own way and then reap the consequences. It’s also hard even when I am trying to follow God’s way.

Trials come when I go my own way and when I follow God. Faith and obedience don’t guarantee a smooth life with no disappointments.

Life can often be harder than we expect when tragedies happen:

  • You’re diagnosed with a debilitating illness or even paralysis and are bedridden.
  • Your child dies way before his or her time.
  • You watch a loved one slowly fade away from cancer.

Any of the above can happen to believers and unbelievers. No one is immune from life’s tragic moments. Life is very fragile, as well as precious.

Disappointments can come simply because it’s a fallen world. Satan does everything possible to distract people from following God. He can’t really stop you from living your life for God but he can place obstacles in your way that hinder you. He can whisper doubts that can go straight to your heart if you let them. And if those doubts imbed themselves within your mind, they can take root as bitterness. Bitterness comes out in the form of anger, self-pity, and even depression, all of which halt your ability to walk along God’s path for your life.

But… let me repeat… God has overcome all of that! 

The phrase “But God…” appears a lot in the Bible for a very good reason. Disappointments will happen but God is with you to comfort and help you walk through them.

When disappointments seem to block my way, I can hurdle them and continue on my way. Occasionally though, it’s not that simple. Some disappointments are bigger than others. Those may require me to step off the path for a bit and nurse my wounds by reading God’s Truth and connecting with other people for extra encouragement. But then… I can get back on the road and go forward.

Life is always going to be harder than I expect. My expectations and God’s ultimate plan often look different. 

Bring God all of your expectations.

Stay near to Him.

Learn from Him through it all.

And… the sum of your life will be better than you expect no matter what elements go into it.

“Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.” (Romans 12:21)


Jennifer Heeren loves to write and wants to live in such a way that people are encouraged by her writing and her attitude. She loves to write devotional articles and stories that bring people hope and encouragement. Her cup is always at least half-full, even when circumstances aren’t ideal. She regularly contributes to Crosswalk.com. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia with her husband. Visit her at www.jenniferheeren.com.

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