“It’s not supposed to be this way.”
“That wasn’t supposed to happen.”
“This isn’t how I planned it.”
These are things that I often say or hear in the midst of tragedy or in a moment of stress and frustration. The theory did not become reality. My plans and control over a situation did not happen. My expectations were not met. Something got messed up.
This is the case with anything in life. It is not farfetched to think that everyone, young and old, knows what it is like to have a change of plans that force a shift in their expectations.
A few years back, I was challenged to find something new about the Christmas story, to rediscover a perspective or fact that I had not realized before. What I found was that this story was not “planned”. Yes, God had it planned, but no one else did. We know the narrative in full, and hindsight is 20/20. But if you think of their perspectives within the story at the time, wow! I don’t know if I could’ve done that!
Mary didn’t expect to get pregnant at that time. They weren’t expecting to travel that close to delivery and far away from family. Jesus wasn’t supposed to be born in the barn. The Wisemen weren’t supposed to ask Herod about a Newborn King. . . and the list goes on.
But God knew it. The whole thing WAS indeed thought out.
Chris Tomlin’s “Noel” has one of my favorite ways of wording this elaborate, expected story. “Noel, Noel, Come and see what God has done.” No part of that first Christmas was man’s doing. It came as a surprise to them all when these events occurred. It is purely “what God has done” – drawing attention to the plot that only God could orchestrate.
We’ve recently had some unexpected things happen in our family – a car died, a child ran away, a friend needed help, a disclosure of more abuse, a divisive disagreement in our marriage, a mental health crisis. . . There are a lot of things we “expect” with having kids and dealing with trauma. The scenarios we find ourselves in never seem to disappoint in the “crazy” department. I would say that Jonathon and I are pretty good at rolling with those punches. But man, oh man, these challenges seemed to hit us out of nowhere. It took us by surprise.
We were singing this version of “Noel” at church the Sunday after we had to retrieve a child from the police station, among other things that week. My actual thoughts were “he wasn’t supposed to do that” and “we adopted him so he would heal from all this” and “there’s nothing else for us to do”. Then I sing “Come and see what God has done. . . the story of amazing love. . .”
The characters in God’s story of His Son did not know what the next step was. They seemed to be at the mercy of other things – a full inn, a census, etc. They followed God in full obedience even though it wasn’t their own original plans. And Jesus would not have been born how God intended it if it wasn’t for “The Unexpected”. That was His plan.
A lot of times I write posts when a circumstance has passed. That is what helps me best in debriefing and seeing the lessons that God has taught me. It helps to complete a thought. It looks nicer when I blog. But I feel a nudging to share in the middle of this season. I think that’s part of the point of this learning. Our calling, our life is an anthem screaming “Come and see what God has done”.
When life makes you say “this wasn’t supposed to happen”, remember that God sent His Son in the middle of a “not supposed to happen” story.
Come and see what God has done.