"This isn't the way life was supposed to turn out." Have you ever caught yourself thinking that? Has there been more hardship and suffering than you ever would have imagined as a hopeful youth? Take heart and be reminded, with this post, that God can resurrect it all.

Are Your Eyes Open?

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This isn’t the way life was supposed to turn out.

Have you ever found yourself thinking that? I know I have.

Sitting in my college dorm, imagining my bright future, not once did I say, “And then I’ll have a really hard time getting pregnant — twice — and when I finally get two healthy kids and life seems to be settling down, then my baby will get leukemia.”

No. It was a lot more like, “We’ll have 2.5 healthy kids, and I’ll have a job that pays well, fulfills me, and leaves me with plenty of free time to pursue my hobbies and dreams.”

Oh how naive that young College-Jenni was. The truth is, life just doesn’t always turn out how we had planned. It certainly didn’t for Jesus’ disciples.

They had imagined a lofty future — College-Jenni style — of Jesus ruling over an earthly kingdom, redeeming Israel in a very earthly way. Over and over, Jesus tried to warn them that He would have to suffer and die, but it just wasn’t sinking in for them.

When Jesus was crucified, it totally caught the disciples off guard. This wasn’t at all what they had imagined. Now their leader was dead, and they were hiding behind locked doors, afraid for their own lives.

Has there been a time like that in your own life, when things got all twisted, confused and off the course you had imagined?  I know I can.

But after three agonizing days of wondering how things could have gotten so off-course, the disciples found themselves standing at an empty tomb, listening to the angels words:

He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Then they remembered his words. Luke 24:6-8

A little at a time, the disciples started to understand. They started to wrap their mind around what Jesus had been talking about all along. He wasn’t saving Israel in an earthly way.

Jesus was saving us all in an eternal way.

In our own lives, we may still be like the disciples before Jesus resurrection — wondering how life turned out this way.

But I have hope that one day — either in this life or the next — God will allow us all to stand at the empty tomb and see how our suffering has been resurrected for good.

With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning [within us] while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?”  (Luke 24:31-32)

Has life turned out differently than you had planned? Has God allowed you to see some of your suffering redeemed for good?

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30 responses on “Are Your Eyes Open?

  1. Penny

    Jenni,

    Thank-you for sharing these thoughts and for so beautifully putting things into perspective. I honestly @ this moment can’t think of many times in my life that things worked out the way that I thought they would. I have come to realize that things will work out the way they were meant to. And that I have to make the best of whatever that may or may not be. However that does not take away my hope that when the time is right it might work out the way I thought after all.

    Have a blessed day…..

    1. Genuflected Post author

      It is good to have that hope! We never know when our plans and dreams will align with God’s plan for us. Thanks for stopping by Genuflected!

  2. Betsy de Cruz

    Hi there Jenni. My life has turned out differently in lots of ways than I expected. When I married, I thought I’d be in El Salvador the rest of my life, now here I am in Turkey. Happy to be here, but sometimes challenged. But in all circumstances, we do have hope!

    1. Genuflected Post author

      Oh wow, El Salvador to Turkey! It’s amazing what God has planned for us. “In all circumstances we do have hope.” …love it, Betsy!

  3. Kamea Hope

    Amen, dear Jenni! Life often throws us surprises, and often times of disappointment, that we do not expect. Although we would not choose times of suffering, I am fully convinced that God does not allow anything to happen that is not for our ultimate good. The suffering I have endured, due to the abuse in my childhood, I would not wish on anyone – but I believe God allowed it because He knew the good that would come of it. There is so much I do not understand, but I choose to trust that God is good, that He loves me deeply, and that He has a plan to prosper me and not to harm me.
    Blessings and hugs,
    Kamea

    1. Genuflected Post author

      I’m so sorry that you had to suffer as a child, Kamea. I believe God cries with us when we experience pain. But as you said, God is working things out for the good of those who love Him, even if we cannot fully understand His intricate plan.

  4. Abby

    Thank you so much for sharing, I can’t tell you how much I needed this today!! I’e been dealing with various health issues the last 10 years, one after another. Then a couple months ago I was blindsided by the guy who I thought I was going to marry. I wasn’t sure what in the world was going on, since this definitely wasn’t how I thought my life was going to look like. But He’s been showing me that His plans & dreams are, and always will be, so much bigger and better than anything I will ever be able to comprehend!

    1. Genuflected Post author

      Yes, Abby, amen! These big plans God has for us can be hard to comprehend. We see a straight line from point A to point B, but He sees the best way. You have my prayers as you walk through this complicated time in your life.

  5. Janet

    Jenni, Life never goes smoothly for any of us! For me it was a divorce, and then cancer. But there were a lot of good things that I didn’t expect too. I never thought I would have 7 grandchildren. They are a delight! I never thought I would be married to a minister, or that I would be living in Florida 5 minutes from the ocean! Being thankful for the good things, even when bad happens, helps us get through, and shows us that God is good, and He loves us. We just have to remember that the devil still roams this earth. Bad stuff will happen, but we have a loving God to help us through, and give us hope for good to come out of the bad.

    1. Genuflected Post author

      Janet, I loved to read how things didn’t go as you’d planned, but they turned out better than you could have imagined in the end! “Bad stuff will happen, but we have a loving God to help us through, and give us hope for good to come out of the bad.” Amen to that, sister! Grateful you stopped by Genuflected today.

  6. Angela Parlin

    Thanks for sharing this, Jenni…yes, I can relate to some things not turning out the way I thought they would. I love the way you tied that in to Jesus’ crucifixion and how his disciples felt…and brought us around to HOPE! Great encouragement for #RaRaLinkup today!

  7. Christine Duncan

    Someone very wise once said to me, “He is never surprised, and that’s why we can trust.” And gosh did that come flooding back to me with your words, and the account of the disciples! So many wonderful promises for us, even as things go nothing like we hope. That why I love how you remind us that our hope is Him… that’s the hope that doesn’t waiver or fail.
    Blessed again by your posts, Jenni, and glad I got to visit from the #RaRaLinkup!

    1. Genuflected Post author

      Yes! There is something so comforting about the fact that He can see the big picture — past, present, and future — when all we can see is what’s right in front of us. We truly can trust Him, even more than we trust ourselves! I really like that quote. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Kim Stewart

    Jenni, what a beautiful post and I can relate to things turning out differently than planned: I have a son with autism. I didn’t plan on that but I know God has worked miracles in both he and I through it. Thanks for your reminder of the hope we have in Him. #raralinkup
    Have a great day, Kim

    1. Genuflected Post author

      Yes, Kim, sometimes we do get those glimpses of the miracles and goodness that He is working through our struggles. It’s such a blessing and an encouragement when we do. Thanks for stopping by Genuflected today!

  9. jeri

    Amen! I had big, big plans when I was growing up in a small town. My plans didn’t turn out the way I imagined…not even close. I remind myself that I can make all the plans I want, but ultimately He has better plans for me.

    1. Genuflected Post author

      Exactly, Jeri! Not only are His plans different, they are better — even when we can’t see it. Our hope is born of trusting that our Father knows best.

  10. Deb Wolf

    Jenni, Life is different in too many ways to mention . . . but God is faithful and true. And looking back I can see His plans are much better than mine. Along the way there were many questions but I’ve learned to trust and it’s much better than the constant state of fear I lived before. Thanks for sharing this and pointing us once again to the hope we have in Him. Blessings and prayers!

    1. Genuflected Post author

      Yes, Deb, things are always so much more clear with the advantage of hindsight! In a way, with hindsight, He allows us to stand at the empty tomb and start to glimpse how he is redeeming the struggles. Thanks for your insights today, Deb!

  11. Valerie Sisco

    Jenni,
    I just love the Easter story of Jesus’ disciples thinking this wasn’t supposed to be how it turned out. We can take such hope that God’s ways are better than ours and he is writing our stories. I’m always a little surprised when I encounter someone who says they’ve planned their life and it’s all turned out exactly as they thought (and yes, I do know someone who says this!) because only through our pain and disappointments can we encounter the rich, deep love of God and get to know him in new, different and beautiful ways. Praying for your family, Jenni! 🙂

    1. Genuflected Post author

      Yes, Valerie, you are so right! It does seem that when things don’t go as we’d imagined, those are the times our faith is grown by leaps and bounds. So grateful you stopped by Genuflected today!

  12. Kristi

    Living in this state was not in my plans. But it was in God’s. We’ve been here for just over a year, and there have been several heart checks during that time, but when I go back to God, all is good. It’s that trust walk thing. 😉 Nice post, Jenni, that uncovers a bit of “but this wasn’t in my plans” for all of us. Happy Easter! Visiting today via #coffeeforyourheart.

  13. Michele Morin

    I’m your neighbor today at the Beloved Brews link up. Your story gives the essence of the resurrection story from the disciples’ point of view. It was all a mess, and then suddenly, it wasn’t! Seeing the big picture from Jesus point of view makes all the difference, and you have demonstrated that beautifully today. Thank you.

  14. Genuflected Post author

    Thanks, Kristi! It does seem that God is more focused on eternal gain than temporal pain. As you say, it’s all about that trust walk thing — trusting that His ways are better than ours in the end. Grateful you visited Genuflected!

  15. Susan B Mead

    I have hope that one day we will all stand at the empty tomb of this life’s suffering and, like the apostles on Easter morning, God will begin to open our eyes. He will help us to see how He resurrected even the greatest pain and suffering in our lives.

    Yes ma’am, Jenni. Life was not as I anticipated as the mom of 2 sons, only to bury the youngest and have the oldest “fighting” with God, as how can a good God take my baby brother? Yet, God redeems! He has the final word, yes He does.

  16. Lynne

    Jenni, you were right!! This post does indeed speak directly into my situation. Here I was, starting a new career, imagining success as God and I went on this new adventure together. Little did I know that I would not find the success I was so sure was there! I wondered why God would lead me down a path that only had failure at the end. The disciples also imagined earthly success for their leader and themselves, only for him to be killed and their dreams to be shattered. But that was not the end of the story for them, and I don’t think this is the end of the story for me. Your post gives me hope!! Thanks so much for sharing.

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