No matter how much we plan and prepare, life drops the unexpected in our laps every day.
This week brought our family the surprise of icy weather and school cancellations—who knew we’d spend a couple days hanging out with the kids in their pj’s? Anna was blindsided by a painful strep infection that’s kept her laying low. Emma had a fun little windfall of funds she didn’t see coming. A visiting friend was startled by water overflowing in our bathroom. Whether it’s an exciting surprise, an annoying interruption, or a sudden disaster, we can’t guarantee what any day will bring.
Facing the unexpected is a quick reminder we’re not in control. We can react in anger or fear, or we can become distracted from what’s most important. Here are three ways our families can cope when the unexpected comes our way:
Go to prayer:
Each of us react differently when we’re shocked or surprised. Our emotions can take over, leaving us yelling, panicked, or in tears. We might shut down altogether to avoid what’s in front of us. Or we can jump right into problem-solving mode, scrambling for quick fixes and trying to run the show.
God gently reminds us to “be still, and know that I am God” since he is “our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1, 10) He invites us to run to him first before we freak out or scramble for solutions. Before you give way to all your feelings or make any decisions, talk to him. Tell him how you feel. Ask for the wisdom he promises to provide. (James 1:5) Let him settle your spirit and guide your steps.
Reach out to God’s people:
In God’s perfect design, he created us to live in family and community. No matter how capable and independent we might be, we need each other. In the good and the bad, reach out to the believers in your life. “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” (Romans 12:15) Allow your ‘people’ the joy of celebrating with you when an unexpected blessing comes your way. In tough times, humble yourself to cry on their shoulder and ask for help. Call out for prayer so God’s power can be magnified in your situation.
Cheering each other on and offering support isn’t just about us. It allows a unique opportunity for the world to see God’s love in action. Sharing your burdens with God’s family allows Jesus’ words to be fulfilled:
“A new command I give you: Love one another.
As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples,
if you love one another.”
When we’re hurt or upset, it’s tempting to withdraw from those closest to us. We retreat to separate corners with Netflix and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s to try to pull ourselves together. Yet moments of stress or excitement are critical learning opportunities for our kids. Our coping skills (or lack of them) set an example by how we deal with the unexpected.
Be honest with your kids. Pull them close and tell them you’re upset or worried or having a tough day. Ask for extra hugs and invite them into prayer as a family. Our stress is contagious—give your kids a chance to share how they’re feeling about the situation. Create a safe place for them to ask questions, give their own ideas, and ask for support.
Sticking close as a family says “we’re in this together.” Everybody has a valuable voice and nobody’s needs are unimportant. It affirms your hope in God as you wait on him in prayer together. And, it shows what a priceless gift your family can be as you’re there for each other when it counts.
If I’m honest, I’m not thrilled about all the things that have come our way lately. Our son’s ADHD diagnosis is a struggle with no simple answers. A loved one’s health issue brings hard realities with it. Work deadlines have cropped up that make us feel like we’re in over our heads. And changes on the horizon (even the positive ones) make our footing feel a bit shaky.
It’s a comfort to know we’re held by a God who never changes. No single event is a surprise to him because he holds the entire universe in his hands. He never intended for us to create our own destiny, since we can make all the plans we want “but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” (Proverbs 19:21) What’s a surprise to us is old news to him, and he promises to be right there with us through it all.
We pray for God’s blessing on your family as you navigate the unexpected in your lives. It’s our joy to pray with you, so we invite you to message us and share how we can lift you up. As always, we’re grateful to be ‘growing home together’ with you.
Therefore let all the faithful pray to you
while you may be found;
surely the rising of the mighty waters
will not reach them.
You are my hiding place;
you will protect me from trouble
and surround me with songs of deliverance.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
Many are the woes of the wicked,
but the Lord’s unfailing love
surrounds the one who trusts in him.
Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous;
sing, all you who are upright in heart!
(Psalm 32:6-8, 10-11)
Grab hold of these resources to help your family pray in every situation: