This past Sunday, it snowed, and snowed quite a bit for us East Tennesseans. However, as fast as the snow fell, it melted maybe even faster. The snowflakes were massive, but the white beauty that surrounded us quickly turned into a slushy, slippery mess. While I enjoyed the snow, I also couldn’t help but think to myself…

What are the odds of significant snow falling on a Sunday morning that we just happened to be baptizing people? We were still able to baptize two people this past Sunday, but all of that had me asking a question, why? Why would it snow on this particular Sunday?

I can easily over-analyze things sometimes, and this was probably the perfect example of me doing that, but in the midst of that, I was stirred to consider generally how I/we respond to things we aren’t expecting.

When the unexpected happens, people often try to extend comfort and say things such as…

“God has a plan.” “All things work out in the end.” 

I get the truths behind these statements. God does have a plan, and He is working things out for the good for His glory, but when you are going through an unexpected season or change of events, these things are easier said than lived out. We can believe them and embrace them, but it’s not easy, so what do we do? These aren’t quick fixes or solutions, but below are two thoughts.

(Oh, and by the way, use extreme caution when trying to give comfort or perspective to someone using the phrases above. I’ve found people usually just prefer you to listen, be present, and walk them through the unexpected. There will be a time for “bigger perspective” conversations, so just don’t feel the need to rush those early on in an effort to speak when you don’t really know what to say. If these phrases are all you know to say, then probably just listen to the person and offer to pray with them and for them… Just make sure you actually do)

Talk to people who can relate to your circumstances

When life gets hard, we can easily shut down and isolate ourselves. Before long, we find ourselves drowning in a sea of shame, worry, anxiety, etc. When the unexpected happens, draw close to people who care. Learn from them. Listen to their stories.

At our Christmas Eve Eve service, you’ll hear from a couple people who went through some unexpected “ugliness” this year but are now slowly coming through the other side of it. These stories are powerful, and God uses other people’s journeys to guide us into our next steps of faith.

Step back and let God be God

Again, easier said than done, but when the unexpected happens, you can rest assured that it wasn’t unexpected to God. Even though we are sometimes taken by surprise, just know God is never caught off guard. He is in control and already working through what you are just discovering.

I’ll go back to the unexpected snow last Sunday… From one perspective, you could say it delayed baptisms, but from another perspective, you could say that it provided one more week for someone to consider taking this next step… Well, the later is what happened. Unless something changes, we will have 3 more people being baptized this coming Sunday! Praise God for the snow! There are probably even other things that God in His sovereignty is working out behind the scenes, but we’ll just leave that to Him.

Maybe the holidays have brought good surprises for you or maybe there’s been something unexpected that’s not so great… Whether it’s already happened or something comes up in the days ahead, stay relational and ask God for the faith to trust the greater story He is writing!