We planned a trip to Disney World when my youngest was in preschool, beginning the drive after we picked him up from his half-day school program. When I arrived at his class, the teacher said he didn’t seem to feel well. I buckled him up in his seat, and we headed to the land of dreams and fairy tales.
Only my son threw up in the car for the entire ride.
Motherhood is filled with unexpected and upside-down days when our plans go awry, and nothing goes right. I’m not talking about tragedies or disasters but the everyday unexpected frustrations. Everything takes longer than it should. Nothing works right, and it seems like we are in a Monday morning version of the movie Groundhog’s Day where we relive the same day over and over. Some days, the chaos seems so ridiculous, we can’t help but laugh, and other days, we want to bury ourselves in a hole and not come out until the kids turn thirty.
All the chaos and unexpected events in our life seem random, a stream of bad luck. But the truth is, those upside-down days are governed by our Sovereign, All-Knowing, and All-Powerful God.
From small things to big things, God rules over and governs everything in our lives. Even the plans we make that are interrupted. Even irritating inconveniences, embarrassing mishaps, and unexpected challenges. He rules over our child’s tantrum in the candy aisle, the rained-out park day, and the phone call that wakens the baby from her nap.
God doesn’t place interruptions and unexpected events in our life without a purpose; rather, he gives them to us to change us.
Upside-down days are just another means by which God sanctifies us and transforms us into the likeness of his Son. While he does use big things, such as physical suffering or the loss of a job or even persecution, he also uses small things, seemingly random and insignificant things in our sanctification.
Many of us don’t experience a big, life-altering event that transforms our hearts in a profound way. Most of us are changed in the little things of life: the small decision to speak in kindness and love, the choice to invite a friend for coffee, the faithful act of making dinner each night for our family. It’s the little things that shape us over a lifetime.
It’s also those little things that become divine opportunities for us to face the reality of who we are and who God is. In truth, these inconveniences remind us that we are not God. They remind us that we are dependent creatures. They remind us that we don’t have life all figured out, that we can’t control what happens, and that we can’t do life on our own. Our upside-down days then become opportunities to rely on God’s grace and trust him for the strength to endure. They give us the opportunity to turn to the cross and remember our great need for a Savior.
When upside-down days cut into our life, let us turn to God in prayer, seeking him in the midst of the chaos of motherhood.
A Gospel Prayer for Upside-Down Days
We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Rom. 8:28)
Father in Heaven,
What a crazy week I’ve had! Everything has gone wrong. The kids are sick, everyone is grumpy, and I’ve had to cancel important things I’ve put a lot of work into. This was the worst possible week for all this to happen!
I’m angry and overwhelmed. I don’t have time for all these interruptions. I don’t have the energy or emotional bandwidth either.
But then your Spirit prompts my heart, and I’m reminded that none of this took you by surprise. You weren’t taken off guard. You knew all this would happen. You reign over all things, right down to the fact that I ran out of milk just when I can’t leave the house because everyone is sick.
And when I ask myself why all this craziness has happened, I remember that you do all things well. You are a good God and only do what is good. As your child, adopted in Christ, I will experience only your good for me. You desire not my happiness in the moment, but my holiness for all eternity. You are using each and every irritating moment and frustrating interruption to reshape me into the likeness of Christ. And sometimes that means cutting into my perfect plans for my day. Sometimes that means upside-down days.
Forgive me for forgetting who you are as sovereign King. Forgive me for forgetting your goodness to me in Christ. Forgive me for acting like my kids do when I don’t let them have any more candy. I know what is good for them, just as you know what is best for me. Forgive me for the way I have responded to these interruptions.
Help me to look at these upside-down days as sovereignly placed opportunities to glorify you and obey you. Help me to stop and ask myself, “What might God want me to learn in this?” Help me to find joy in the fact that I am your child and that you know exactly what I need. Help me to step back from staring at the inconvenience before me and to look at the big picture you are painting.
I trust that you are for me. In Jesus’s name, amen.
Christina Fox received her undergraduate degree from Covenant College and her Master’s Degree in Counseling from Palm Beach Atlantic University. She writes for a number of Christian ministries and publications including Desiring God Ministries and The Gospel Coalition. She is the author of A Heart Set Free: A Journey Through the Psalms of Lament and Closer Than a Sister. You can find her at www.christinafox.com, @christinarfox and on Facebook.
Note: This post is a modified excerpt from Christina’s new book, Sufficient Hope: Gospel Meditations and Prayers for Moms.