How to Respond When Our Plans are Changed

I don’t know about you, but I feel like the world has gone completely crazy. In the last week we have seen churches, restaurants, schools, and libraries all shut down. We’ve seen cities discourage gathering together in large groups (no more than 10 in Tulsa) and entire countries confined to their homes by law with the penalty of fines or imprisonment. All this in the course of just a couple of weeks.

This is not something the world had planned for, much less our little family. We, like many, had planned for life to go on. But now, parties that have been on the calendar for weeks have been canceled. Our church services are viewed from our couch so Sundays will look very different. In short, our plans have changed. But now I have a choice: Become depressed and bitter, or rejoice and thank God that his plans never do.

So now, the highly discussed question in Christians circles: How should I respond?

God’s faithfulness: past and present

I’m pretty sure I’ve written about this before. But I believe we are faced with a time when we need to be reminded of it again. God is in control. This can be seen all throughout the Bible. But let’s pick an example that might hit close to home for us in this time: The 10 Plagues.

We all know the story. God sent Moses with a message to Pharaoh, “Let my people go.” But God hardened Pharaoh’s heart and he refused the command. So God sent 10 plagues on the land of Egypt. These were plagues of pestilence, illness, drought and death. Now we may not be experiencing pestilence, we are certainly seeing illness, drought, (food and household essentials shortages) and death on a daily basis.

As a child, I only ever thought about what the Egyptians must have been thinking. I never really thought about what went through the mind of an Israelite mother. Did she question how she would care for her family? Did she worry that they would run out of water or that she wouldn’t have enough flour to bake bread? Did she fear for her family’s health?

These are questions and worries we are all facing today. But we have an advantage that the Israelite mom did not. She had no written documentation of God’s promises and faithfulness. Only the verbally passed down stories of her ancestors. She probably only knew God as a vague promise of one day deliverance that hadn’t come in 400 years. But we have the entire Bible to read and see God’s faithfulness throughout history. We can go to Genesis and see his love for creation and see Him provide for it over, and over, and over again. We can see how the plagues ended and know they were for a good purpose. We can look to the new Testament and see how He used the affliction of people like Elizabeth and Paul to further the kingdom of God. We can see the ultimate deliverance of Jesus’s death and resurrection. And even better, we can look ahead and see how the story will end.

In other words, unlike the Israelite woman, we have thousands of years history to see that God is sovereign and faithful over everything, even pandemics.

But what if this time is different?

“God is not a man, that He should lie, or a son of man that He should change His mind. Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will he not fulfill it?”

Numbers 23:19 ESV

These were God’s words through the mouth of Balaam (the donkey whisperer) to Balak the king of Moab as the Israelites were entering the promised land. But they are words that bring so much hope to us today in this time of insanity and uncertainty. We can rest assured in the many other promises we read in the Bible because we know God does not lie.

One such promise can be found in Malachi 3:6 “For I the Lord do not change…” Another similar promise can be found in Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Why are these so reassuring? It goes back the fact that we have the whole Bible at our fingertips. We have the evidence of God’s faithfulness to His people throughout history. As one of my favorite songs says “God has been faithful, He will be again.” That’s what these verses are saying. God was faithful and because of his character, because He does not change, I know he will be again.

So when we look at our wrecked schedules over the next week we have a choice. We can become depressed and bitter over the fact that our plans fell through, or we can use it as a reminder that we serve a sovereign and unchanging God and praise Him for his faithfulness.

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