What If Challenging Circumstances Are Not Interruptions But Plans?

We expend great effort to prevent or reduce suffering and hardship for ourselves and others we care about. 

We like things easy and comfortable, and preferably, pain free. 

But what if those challenging circumstances are part of the plan for our lives, not interruptions to that plan? And what if we truly believe that? What would that mean for how we live?

Not under my control but God's.

God’s Fingerprints

Before I knew how intimately the Lord was connected and involved in my daily life, I felt obligated/entitled to make life about me. 

I strove to make it work and work the way I thought it should. And when it didn’t, negative emotions swirled.

Eventually I realized God isn’t only concerned about my eternal salvation upon exiting this earth. He has His fingerprints on the events of my days spent here as well.

God isn't only concerned with our eternal salvation. He also has His fingerprints on the events of our days. Click To Tweet

That realization dramatically shifted my focus.

What if life wasn’t supposed to be easy?

What if I wasn’t supposed to be in control? What if the current hard thing was the plan?

What if I lived like I truly believed God when He said His grace was sufficient and He had only good plans for me?

What if it’s not all about me and what I can do, but really all about God and what He wants to do through me?

In my biblical understanding, God is intimately involved in each of our lives. Therefore, everything we face each day has either come by, or been filtered through, His hands.

In His sovereignty, He could prevent the pain, the sorrow, the hard. But He often chooses not to. That means none of it is accidental.

Our circumstances may be unpleasant,

or difficult,

or even downright impossible in our own strength, but they are never under God’s radar.

Circumstances may be unpleasant, difficult, or even impossible in our strength, but they're never under God's radar. Click To Tweet


Scripture tells us that the messiness of life—complicated decisions, difficult relationships, health concerns—it’s all being used to shape us into a closer image of Christ.

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.” James 1:2-3

We are to shine His light, to reflect Him. But to do that, we need to grow more like Him, to emulate Him.

Life’s challenges help to accomplish that. They press us nearer to God, helping us see His character more clearly, and, in turn, take on more of His character traits.

Left to guide my own steps, I’d steer far clear of the pressure cookers and refiners. Since life would be about me, there would be little if any character growth.

His Plan

God created us with emotions, insight, knowledge, and the ability to plan and think. That makes it incredibly difficult for us to yield to another, especially when such yielding means a plan different from our own (and one we don’t particularly like).

Pain/hard circumstances are never what we want, but then life is not really about us, is it?

The plan for our lives is about the Creator, not so much about the created.

The plan for our lives is about the Creator, not so much about the created. Click To Tweet

When we let Him have control of our lives—as Creator, Author, Redeemer, and Guide—we find the meaning and freedom we’ve been longing for.

“A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord determines his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

Reflections: If where you are in life is what God has for you at this time, how does that change how you live?

I’m thrilled to link up with Suzie Eller for #livefreeThursday and this week’s prompt, “out of my control.” I love these special linkups. They provide an abundance of great inspiration and encouragement all in one place. Click on the images below to check them out.


By His grace ≈


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Find hope in your real-life struggles. We'll chase it together! I am a wife; mom of 4 (including a young adult daughter with special needs); miscarriage mom of 5; author & follower of Jesus Christ. I write, edit, speak and enjoy everything outdoors.

12 comments on “What If Challenging Circumstances Are Not Interruptions But Plans?
  1. Kaylie Hodges says:

    This is perfect Julie. A few weeks ago in Bible Study a woman mentioned that Jesus was always interruptible and I felt so strongly convicted I could have cried. I’ve used my repentance as an opportunity to search for His fingerprint everywhere, and sure enough? It’s there! Thank you for your words!

  2. Crystal Sunshine Hornback says:

    I love this, Julie! and to be honest, I have to remind myself of this daily! Everything that we walk through is pruning, and must trust that He has it all under control, even when I’m spiraling! Thank you for this! #livefree

    • Julie Sunne says:

      I blog often about aspects of this topic, Crystal, because most of us need a frequent reminder of who is ultimately in control, and the beauty of that!

  3. Kim S says:

    Great reminder today, Julie: “Pain/hard circumstances are never what we want, but then life is not really about us, is it?” – if only I can remember that daily 🙂 thanks for encouraging me!

  4. Hey Julie I was somewhat talking about this on Wednesday night. Our life is messy. We try so hard to keep everything under control but we never can. I found that when I embrace the mess and trust that God will see me through I tend to be much happier. Now I can depend on him as my source of joy.

  5. Cecelia Lester (Quiet Spirit) says:

    Thank you for this message. I really needed it today. Found out it could take six weeks for my broken rib to heal. Not what I wanted to read. God does have a plan for this; He is in control.

  6. Mary Scro says:

    Thank you, Julie, for sharing. Yes, God is after heart change, out of which behavior will change. As I read your post, I remembered reading one of Oswald Chambers’ entries in My Utmost for His Highest. He said that we can get in God’s way when we allow our human sympathies to govern our actions toward someone who is suffering. Yes, as you said, that perspective does push us toward God, and that’s always His plan!

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