When Life Doesn't Go As Planned
Ryan Plantz - Associate Pastor
I’m a planner. I like knowing what my day, my week, my month — even what my year is going to look like. My calendar and my many lists will testify to my (often futile) attempts to plan and control my life so it unfolds exactly how I want it to.
But what happens when things don’t go according to my plan?
If you ask my wife, I typically become the worst version of myself. When things don’t happen according to my plan, I can be quick to grow frustrated and impatient. I may even take my frustration out on those around me. It’s safe to say that in these moments, I’m not the most pleasant person to be around.
Now, you’re probably a better person than me, but I think this is pretty typical for most people. We have an idea of what we want our lives to look like and when reality doesn’t line up with what we envisioned, our responses tend to be less than stellar.
When Things Really Didn’t Go As Planned
In the midst of Easter weekend, think about this for a moment…
We spend a lot of time pondering the weight of Friday, because it’s the day Jesus died. We also spend a lot of energy celebrating Sunday, because it’s the day He conquered death and rose from the grave. But what about Saturday? When’s the last time you thought about what that Saturday looked like?
What were his disciples thinking? What were his friends feeling? Were they hopeless? Were they confused? Were they frustrated?
At the very least, we can imagine that many of them didn’t plan their time with Jesus to end this way. Even though Jesus foretold what would happen to himself multiple times, his disciples were never quite able to pick up on the severity and magnitude of what was to come, let alone the way events would unfold.
The Worst Saturday Ever?
When I think about that Saturday, my thoughts are quick to go to Peter. I think that Saturday must’ve been among the worst days of Peter’s life. And understandably so. Peter had some of the most incredible encounters with Jesus: he miraculously walked on water with Him (Matt. 14:28-33), he was one of the first to declare that Jesus was the Christ (Matt. 16:13-20), he witnessed Jesus’ glorious transfiguration alongside James and John (Matt. 17:1-13).
And yet on that Saturday, with all of those wonderful memories at hand, I can’t help but think that Peter’s mind was fixated on the fact that he had denied any association with Jesus not once, not twice, but three times (Matt. 26:69-75) hours before he witnessed Him killed in the most gruesome and shameful way imaginable (Matt. 27:27-56).
I can’t be sure of exactly what Peter was thinking and feeling on that Saturday, but I’m certain that he never planned for things to happen this way; he didn’t envision his time with Jesus ending like this.
Don’t Let Disappointment Lead You Into a Dead End
When things don’t go according to our plans, it’s easy to be disappointed. When we face adversity, when life gets hard, when people turn their backs on us, when money is tight, when life goes left when we thought it’d go right, we tend to lose hope and give up. We are quick to think about what could’ve been and we allow our disappointment to lead us into a dead end.
I’m sure at moments on that Saturday, Peter felt like he was at a dead end. At one moment, He was resolved to follow Jesus wherever He went, committed to giving up everything for Him, and in the next he was disassociating himself from Jesus just hours before He was killed. I’m sure that if Peter got any sleep on that Saturday night, it wasn’t very restful.
He Makes A Way Where There Was No Way
But then something amazing happened. Early on Sunday morning, some of the women who followed Jesus went to the tomb to tend to Jesus’ body. However, when they arrived not only had the tomb’s stone been rolled away, but Jesus’ body was missing. As they stood there, confused by what they were witnessing, two angels suddenly appeared and declared to them that Jesus had risen from the dead!
I’m pretty sure that this morning wasn’t unfolding the way these women had planned!
After this amazing encounter, the women hurried back to the apostles to tell them the miraculous news, but most of them just sat there in disbelief.
But not Peter.
Peter jumped up and ran to the tomb and after seeing exactly what the women described, went home and “marveled” at what had happened (Luke 24:12). Peter’s heart must’ve been doing backflips in that moment. If Jesus had really conquered death, if He really rose from the grave — there was still hope! Friday didn’t have the final word!
Saturday Won’t Last Forever
For many of us, we’re still living through Saturday. Life feels like it’s gone off the rails. Nothing has gone according to plan. It’s difficult and it’s painful and we feel hopeless. And it feels like it will be this way forever.
But it won’t.
Understand this — just because things aren’t unfolding in our time and in our way, it doesn’t mean that God isn’t at work in ways we can’t even begin to comprehend.
Saturday won’t last forever…
Jesus really has conquered sin and death and He is currently ruling and reigning at the right hand of God the Father. And one day, he’s going to come back and make all things new. Until then, God’s Word promises us that, “for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Rom. 8:28)
And none of us should be surprised that Peter would later write this inspired word to encourage us in our darkest days — “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s suffering, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” (1 Pet. 4:12-13)
This was written by a man who endured the darkest Saturday the world has ever known, but then had a front row seat to the greatest Sunday ever. He understood what it was like to feel like Saturday would never end… but he also understood the reality and power of Sunday!
Your Saturday might feel like it’ll never end. You might think that you’re going to be stuck in this dead end forever. But don’t lose hope…
Sunday is coming.