Can Cancelled Plans Bring More Than Just Disappointment?

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Today’s article appeared in the June 2020 issue of The Gospel News in the GMBA News column.

There’s a saying that goes, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.”

Perhaps that has never felt truer in our lives than these past months. For many, plans have been disrupted, preparations hijacked, lives thrown off course.

Maybe you were planning on walking in your high school or college graduation ceremony…and then it was cancelled.

Perhaps you had been looking forward to attending GMBA Campout…and then it was cancelled.

Maybe you were excited about an upcoming family vacation…and then it was cancelled.

CANCELLED. CANCELLED. CANCELLED.

In one way or another, we can all relate to this. The disappointment. The letdown. Plans we thought we had, suddenly gone. It’s especially frustrating when all of this is the result of circumstances beyond our control, when it feels like there’s nothing we can do to get things to go according to plan. However, it is worth asking ourselves, according to whose plans?

According to our plans? Our plans are not inherently bad. Graduations, GMBA Campout, family vacations. There’s nothing wrong with these plans; in fact, they are good plans. However, as we’ve learned recently, even good plans can get derailed. And when this happens, what is our response?

Maybe frustration and sadness, especially at first, but then what? Do we wallow in these
feelings? Do we stare at the cancelled plans, refusing to see anything else?

Proverbs 19:21 reminds us that our plans, no matter how good, can be unpredictable: “There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand.” Put another way, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

This verse means two things to me. First, this verse tells me that my plans, no matter how good, are changeable. These plans might be small — I planned on meeting a friend for lunch, but then she cancelled. These plans might be large — I planned on staying at my job for a long time, but then the company closed. This is the first part of the verse, the part that tells us that our plans, although many, are not fixed.

Sometimes we get stuck here, at least I know I do, focused solely on the cancelled plans, refusing to see beyond the change, the upset, the disappointment. However, this is not the end of the verse, and it is the second part of the verse that holds the power to refocus our vision: “…the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand.”

The Lord’s purpose is unchanging. It is never rescheduled, cancelled, or postponed. It always prevails. From this perspective, cancelled plans become more than sources of frustration and disappointment. From this perspective, cancelled plans can open a space in our lives that the Lord can fill with unexpected blessings.

This doesn’t mean that God is pleased that your graduation ceremony was cancelled or that we cannot attend GMBA Campout; however, what it does mean is that these disappointments, these cancelled plans, do not derail God’s purpose for our lives. And, if we stay focused on that, He will fill the void in our hearts with joy.

This article has undergone ministry review and approval.

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