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How to deal with unexpected life surprises

 How to deal with unexpected life surprises (Photo: iStock)

When you have lived long enough, you start to figure out that life is not always easy and smooth but is full of unexpected surprises. Pastor Rick Warren in one of his books says that he never expected to be diagnosed with prostate cancer; that his son would die; and his worship pastor for ten years would resign.

On his way to Rome to plead his case, Apostle Paul experienced an unexpected raging storm that landed him in Malta.

He finds himself in an unfamiliar land with strangers and cold. He had warned the ship owners of the weather but they did not heed his advice; so he was now suffering because of a wrong decision made by others.

Have you ever been caught up in a distraction or encountered the wrong person... that what you thought a situation was is not what it turned out to be? How do you handle the unexpected or unwanted in life?

You need to guard your heart so that you do not become bitter regardless of how bad the situation is.

First, stay tender. Difficulties have a way of leading us astray and into cold-heartedness if we are not careful. When we get smacked on the face by something we never saw coming, we can turn mean and emotionally ugly.

I wish I could say that struggles, trials and tests naturally bring out the best in us. But the truth is that they bring out our worst and harden our hearts, especially if the source is a friend, church member or family.

“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).

Second, stay faithful or on course. You need to stay true, trustworthy, reliable, committed and loyal. In the parable of the talents, the master praises the faithful servant by telling him, “Well done good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of the Lord” (Matthew 25:21). God values faithfulness and so when tough times come to test is to remain faithful to the course. Third, stay aware. Do not forget that you are constantly in a battle with the flesh and the devil.

Sometimes the unexpected happens because we live in a world full of broken people who have chosen to reject the creator, or we made some serious mistakes, or it is planned methodically by the evil one.

When the unexpected happens, ask yourself: Is this a result of something that I did? If so, repent. Has it been done to me by someone else? If so, forgive. Is it the devil? If so, resist him. “Be sober and vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

Resist him, be steadfast in the faith; knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.” (1st Peter 5:8).

Fourth, be ready. We grow best in a crisis. A crisis has the potential to help us grow only if we are ready and willing to grow and not just go through it. God has a plan for us even when the unexpected happens.

In the book of Genesis, Abram was okay, minding his business, living and enjoying life to the full; until God radically intervenes.

God told him to leave his country, people and his father’s household and go to the land that he would show him. Abram had to leave all that he knew and was familiar with - to go to some undisclosed land. This would be a crisis for many of us.

Although it was unexpected, without question Abram received a revelation and obeyed God.

“So Abraham departed as the Lord had spoken to him and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years when he departed from Haran” (Genesis 12:4). When the unexpected happens, we can respond either in fear or faith - the choice is ours. I pray that when the unexpected happens to you, your heart will stay tender, faithful, alert and ready. And that God’s grace will be sufficient for you to come through.

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