I recently special ordered a t-shirt from a website and couldn’t wait for it to arrive. Unlike the old days when all you could do was check the mailbox daily, I was able to track my package online and watch it travel from California through Iowa and Illinois until it was due to be delivered. Sure enough, it arrived as promised and I tore the envelope open in wild anticipation. Unfortunately, what tumbled out was not at all what I expected and my excitement spiraled into disappointment as I groaned, “This isn’t what I ordered!” As I plopped on the couch, utterly disgusted at myself and the useless t-shirt in my lap, I thought about other times in life I didn’t get what I ordered.
I didn’t get what I ordered when my first child died from a birth defect. I didn’t get what I ordered when my marriage ended. I didn’t get what I ordered when the church I loved fell apart. I didn’t get what I ordered when my dad was diagnosed with cancer. I didn’t get what I ordered a thousand other times when life dealt me disappointments. All of these situations left me, at least briefly, crying out to God – “This isn’t what I ordered!”
Maybe you’ve found yourself in a similar situation and life handed you something you didn’t want. Just like my internet purchase, there is no option to return it. The only control we have is in how we react and what we do moving forward. So after that initial reaction of “This isn’t what I ordered!” what should we do?
First and foremost, touch base with God. We can debate whether or not He had a direct hand in bringing about the unwanted situation or if it’s a natural consequence of living in a sinful world, but either way the response should be to seek His counsel and comfort. He can handle our reaction of “This isn’t what I ordered!” and will provide the strength and courage for us to persevere.
Second, I truly believe in all situations, God wants us to live out the adage “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”. No matter how dire or how awful the circumstances, I believe we have a responsibility as Christians to remain salt and light to the world no matter what life throws at us.
Lastly, examine our hearts – are we asking for the proper things? The Bible tells us we don’t have what we want because we don’t ask for it. We need to lay out the appropriate plans and make sure we’re putting our order in correctly.
I was more careful when I reordered my t-shirt. I double checked the measurements on the sizes because evidently one large is not the same as the next. As for the first shirt I received, it will find its way to either the donation box or the rag bag. Even though it wasn’t what I ordered, it will serve a purpose in spite of what I originally expected. The lesson is, we can never truly anticipate what life will throw at us. We should still be thankful for all life affords us and I’m grateful that most of the time I can joyfully exclaim, “Thank you! It’s exactly what I asked for!”