Being Prepared for Trials – When Life Doesn’t Go as You Expect #1
My friend recently asked me to post something about what you do when life doesn’t go as you expect. Since there are many different aspects to this, and it affects so many people, I thought I would do a series. I will post some thoughts from a mix of my experience, counselling course and Bible study. If you have more to contribute as I go along please do comment!
My experience of the unexpected
I have had many times when I was thrown into unexpected challenges and trials, not least of which was the experience of being a stay at home mum of three small children – my biggest ongoing trial yet! But one of the most catastrophic things to happen to me was when I failed to get the A level results I needed to get into university.
If you have had a lot of bad things go on in your life you are probably thinking that’s nothing! But at that time it was like my life had been going along beautifully and then all of a sudden the bottom dropped out.
I had been aiming for quite a while by then to be a doctor, and was doing all the right A levels, had good results in mid-term exams and good homework grades. All I needed was an AAB to get into Cardiff university which I was really excited about because it was in Wales – one of my top favourite places in the world! My parents and teachers all seemed confident that I would be fine. I worked hard and didn’t slack off.
But then the results came, and I got ABB – one grade different but it made all the difference. Cardiff wouldn’t let me in, and though you can get into other courses through clearing, medicine is very difficult to do that with. My parents had not expected it at all and were shocked, and I suddenly had no idea what I was going to do next!!
Being prepared for the worst
After I had done the A level exams, and was in that seemingly endless time of waiting for the results, I told my mum, “You know, I might not get the grades” but she was completely confident I would. However I still knew that I might not.
I have always had the philosophy with exams that it is good to prepare for the worst in case it actually happens! And I think it is a good philosophy for life in general, since we are promised that we will suffer trials and persecution. The best way to prepare for the worst is to know and apply what God says in the Bible.
Even now I sometimes purposefully remind myself that one day my husband or children may die or be taken ill, and try to prepare myself to have the right attitude if those things happen.
That is why I find it difficult to sing the song, ‘Blessed Be Your Name’ joyfully. I love the song, and the words, and the story behind it, from Job. But ever since singing this song while pregnant and thinking, ‘What if I have a miscarriage?’ it has always reminded me that one day I may have to say these words: “You give and take away, my heart will choose to say, Lord blessed be your name”.
While I don’t believe we should fret and worry about these things, I do think it is good to prepare ourselves to have the right attitude for them. When I think about the ‘what if’s’ with my children, I remind myself that they are on loan from the Lord for me to look after, and one day I may have to give them back.
Knowing that there was a chance I might not make those exam grades (especially since I was never very good at revision or exams!), I often prayed that God would help me get what I needed, but also prayed that His will be done, and that He would help me to trust Him if I didn’t get them. Being prepared for that, I was a lot better equipped to deal with it when it actually happened!
I think we all need to realise that in most people’s lives tragedy strikes at some point, and do our best to be prepared for that, by knowing God’s word and His promises.
You can find the rest of the series on when life doesn’t go as you expect here: