when life doesn’t go according to plan

Sometimes when you’re preparing to teach it has more to do with what God wants to do in you, than what He wants to do through you. This past week I had planned on diving into a teaching series about the life of Joseph. But instead of teaching about it, I find myself living it. Life just hasn’t necessarily gone according to plan this week. So maybe the teaching series will have to wait a little bit. But until then, here’s some of the stuff I’m living in the moment.

Is God being with me dependent upon my circumstances? For many of us I think our faith in God hinges upon the circumstances we find ourselves in. If our life is going good then God is good. But if our lives are in turmoil then God must be mad at us or absent.

But what if we’re wrong? What if the Bible is true? That God will never leave you or forsake you. That He’s an ever-present help in times of trouble. That He loves you. That He works all things, the good and the bad, together for the good of those who love Him. That there is nowhere you or I can run to that He’s not there in the thick of it with us. What if God really does have a greater story that He is writing and the plot is thicker than the one moment we find ourselves in right now? What if it’s just not about the circumstances that we happen to find ourselves in today, what if there is something bigger going on?

Below are just a few transferable principles that we can learn from Joseph’s life. (*To read Joseph’s story for yourself, check out Genesis 37, 39-47)

1. Circumstances are more than just circumstances

The crazy circumstances that Joseph finds himself in weren’t God’s punishment; ironically they were God’s provision for His people. Without Joseph the nation of Israel would have come to an abrupt end.

2. God is with us in our mess

God wasn’t mad at Joseph and God didn’t abandon Joseph. Numerous times in the story the Bible affirms that God was with Joseph through the mess.

3. It’s possible to be steady in the storm

Joseph consistently demonstrated steadiness when things around him seemed to be swirling. Each step along the way when he was beaten by his brothers, sold into slavery, trafficked across borders, sold again, had his bosses wife make a pass at him, was falsely accused of rape, thrown in jail, and forgotten in jail Joseph remained faithful and demonstrated godly character.

Hard times are a litmus test of our faith. They test the quality of our faith. And the Scriptures would teach us that it’s in difficult times that God shapes, builds, and grows us. It’s easy to trust God when things are easy and everything is good. But can you trust God when things don’t go your way?


Why is it so hard for us to trust God through our circumstances?

Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation

13 Responses to “when life doesn’t go according to plan”

  1. Joe McGinnis February 21, 2011 at 9:35 am #

    I’m proud to have you as my friend. Praying for you guys!

  2. David Scott February 21, 2011 at 10:25 am #


    Wow, this post could not have come at a more appropriate time for me. I have been praying about teaching on this exact topic this week (more from the perspective of John the Baptist’s question “Are you the One?”). Last week, in prayer, I really felt that this topic was from the Lord’s heart, but the past 2 days I have wondered if it is too hard to preach. Your blog has encouraged me to continue pursuing this direction. Thanks for your honest candor and faithfulness to share your heart.

  3. paul alexander February 21, 2011 at 11:33 am #

    Thank you so much for your kind words and encouragement! David I’m glad this post helped confirm some things your getting ready to teach on!

  4. Ward Townsend February 21, 2011 at 1:31 am #

    Paul, Like Joe, I could not be more honored to consider you my friend and co-laborer. “You have the fragrence of one who has tasted… and KNOWS my Papa… it is sweet and distinctive…” would you please email me… : )

  5. Lindy Jones February 21, 2011 at 7:55 am #

    Paul, I am praying for you and your family. God’s timing and plan can be so different than we can ever imagine. Recently I was reminded that God did not speak to Moses in the palace, He spoke to him in the desert through a burning bush!
    2 Corinthians 4:16-Don’t lose heart! Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. SO we Fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
    Praying for ya’ll…

  6. Brian Dodd February 21, 2011 at 10:17 am #


    I have had the privilege of meeting you a couple of times. You always struck me as a Godly man with a unique call on his life. God is in the proces of telling an unbelievable story through your life that will provide comfort and encouragement to church leaders on a global scale.

    Please know we are praying for you and your family.


  7. Rebecca February 22, 2011 at 12:18 pm #

    We are covering your family in prayer. So impressed by your faith in the midst of all this.

  8. TJ February 22, 2011 at 1:53 am #

    Paul, thank you for sharing from your heart and continuing to be the godly man that I look up to. I’m praying for you guys and hope to connect with you soon.

  9. Jody Forehand February 22, 2011 at 9:44 am #

    Paul, great post. I was reading through Genesis and the story of Joseph a couple weeks ago, and the faithfulness of Joseph through all the turmoil never ceases to amaze me. He had no way of knowing when he was sold into slavery and later unjustly imprisoned and forgotten about, how things would turn out. He didn’t know God’s plan, but he remained faithful and through him God saved Israel. What other’s meant for harm, God used to fulfill his plan and turned it into a blessing. That’s a great (but not easy) lesson for all of us to hang in there and remember that God is in control in all circumstances. Thanks for sharing.

  10. paul alexander February 22, 2011 at 10:34 am #

    I’m incredibly encouraged by your posts and knowing that many of you are praying for me! Thanks for the love!

  11. Mike Work February 23, 2011 at 1:37 am #

    Paul – so proud to call you my friend. What a great post and godly perspective. I am praying for you and your family.

  12. Amanda Chavez February 23, 2011 at 2:30 am #

    Paul – I appreciate the honesty in both your and Lisa’s posts. Thank you for being such Godly models in marriage and in faith. Brent and I are definitely covering you guys in prayer also.

  13. David Camp February 27, 2011 at 10:51 am #

    Paul, My thoughts an prayers are with you and your family, as they are also with the church. Remember that God has total and complete control of the most minute details of our lives. He has a purpose and we are all part of that purpose. Trust Him to grow you, grow the church, grow your family, and to grow all those who are touched by these circumstances in which we find ourselves. I have seen Rob grow tremendously in just a couple of weeks. I know as a fact God will increase our faith as we face trials of many kinds. But like Joseph, we sometimes go through some pretty rough experiences in order to fully realize the glory of God’s design for our lives. With love, in Christ.

Leave a Reply:

Gravatar Image