Our culture today can be a bit negative. I will not pretend I haven't contributed to the negativity. It's easy to complain about all that went wrong in a day.
The negative moments of each day seem to stick out like a sore thumb in the midst of our seamlessly perfect expectations. The negative moments cause a wake in our thus-far undisturbed waters of imagined plans. The negative moments completely throw off our preconceived calculations. Are you tracking with me?
Most of our "negative moments" wouldn't always be particularly "negative" if they weren't so unexpected and didn't mess up the plans we thought would play out. For example: You get a job offer. That would typically be great news to most people... if only you weren't expecting a higher salary offer.
However, in the midst of all our failed plans and missed expectations, we can be thankful for it all because it is leading us to where we actually need to be. We can rest assured that through every unforeseen hurt, rejection, and suffering, God's greater plan is prevailing. Every. Single. Time.
The difficulty for us is that we hold on tight to our expectations, our desires, and our conveniences far more than we hold onto our trust in God. We must be willing to deny ourselves, our plans, and our comforts for the sake of His Will. Even if it's not easy. Even if it's not at all what we expected. Even if it means greater sacrifice, suffering, and pain.
From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you." (Matthew 16: 21-22 ESV)
Peter had his own plan. His plan didn't involved Jesus being crucified on a cross. But Jesus knew that was the only way to pay the cost of sin, once and for all. Jesus also knew He'd be risen to life again on the third day, defeating death and sin forever, and becoming our great intercessor to bring sinners back into right relationship with God.
Jesus's death and resurrection was our only hope. Jesus knew this. Peter was doubtful because he couldn't see the end reward.
Peter was reacting negatively because he couldn't bear the thought of losing his friend. He couldn't comprehend that type of suffering. He was afraid of letting go of his plan for something far less appealing at first glance.
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? (Matthew 16:24-26)
Sometimes life doesn't go along with our expectations. Actually-- very rarely does it do that. So how do we remain joyful? By holding onto our faith, hope, and trust in God tighter than our desires, plans, and expectations. It's far less appealing, requires great sacrifice, but God's promises come with a much greater reward.
Whether you find yourself in an area of work that you don't feel supported in or are dealing with difficult customers on the daily, maybe God is building your confidence and teaching you patience for the next opportunity ahead. Maybe you got an interview just to be rejected after and maybe God was providing you the hope you needed for that season. Whether it helped you, hurt you, motivated you, advised you, redirected you, or tested you, we can be thankful for it all.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1: 3-7)