A Prayer for When Life Doesn't Turn Out the Way You Expect

Wendy van Eyck

I Love Devotionals
Updated Jan 08, 2018
A Prayer for When Life Doesn't Turn Out the Way You Expect
I thought at 34 I would have an amazing career or a bunch of kids at home. Neither has happened. This has been my prayer through the unexpected.

My life hasn't turned out the way I expected. I wouldn’t change my life, but I’m not living the life I imagined when I was younger. I wonder how many of you feel the same way.

By 34, I expected I'd have a career and that I’d be a mom to a bunch of kids. Instead, I've just started a new job. I’m still trying to figure out what I love to do. And my husband and I don't know if we even want to have children.

There are things I never expected to have lived through by now, too. I never thought I would hold my husbands’ hand through 18 sessions of chemo or have spent a month leaving him in isolation ward in a hospital and wondering if he’d be alive the next morning. In the darkest times, there were moments when I never thought he’d call himself a cancer survivor.

Then there are silly things I expected to have figured out. I thought I’d be able to clean an oven without Googling it or know how to roast potatoes without calling my mother for instructions.

What did you expect from life? Did you think you’d go to college, or buy a house, or did you dream of traveling? Did you expect to be healthy, to bounce babies in your arms, and call your mother for advice? Did you expect to be married by now? Or, did you think you’d never settle down and now you have a husband, two kids, and a dog?

A Bible story with an unexpected ending

There is a story in the Bible about a woman called Ruth whose life didn't turn out the way she expected. There is an entire book of the Bible dedicated to her. It’s a quick read with only four chapters.

Ruth married an immigrant, and he died soon after, along with his brother- and father-in-law. After these tragedies, her mother-in-law, Naomi, decided to return to her land of birth with her daughter-in-laws, Ruth and Orpah and so the three women collected their belongings together and began walking towards Bethlehem.

A few hours into the journey, Naomi tells Ruth and Orpah, to go back to their families. Orpah kisses her mother-in-law and heads back. Grateful to return to her people and the only life she has known.Ruth had to make a choice. At that moment, her life wasn’t what she expected.

The Bible tells us so little of Ruth’s past. I’ve wondered if she had a home worth running back to or if an unknown future was better than the past she would leave behind.

Naomi urges her to leave again but Ruth responds:

Stop pushing me away, insisting that I stop following you!
Wherever you go, I will go.
Wherever you live, I will live.
Your people will be my people.
Your God will be my God.
Wherever you die, I will also die and be buried there near you.
May the Eternal One punish me—and even more so—if anything besides death comes between us. (Ruth 1:16-17 MSG)

Naomi’s life hadn’t turned out the way she expected. Now her attempt to send her daughter-in-law home hadn’t either. I imagine Naomi crying when she heard Ruth's words, the two women embracing on the side of a dusty road. I imagine Naomi tired, and full of questions for God, but grateful for Ruth's companionship. Together, they journey on and arrive in Naomi's hometown. Things were tough for the two widows. So tough Naomi tells her childhood friends, "Don't call me Naomi. Call me Mara because the Almighty has made my life very bitter.”

Ruth spent her days following behind harvesters picking up stalks of fallen grains. Boaz, one of Naomi's relatives, recognized Ruth and allowed her to pick up scraps in his fields. To make a long story short suffice to say Ruth and Boaz marry and they have a child, who has a child, who has a child, called David who becomes king of Israel.

The thing that encourages me is Ruth could never have expected she would one day be the great grandmother to a King.

We know how things worked out because we’ve read the end of the story. Ruth couldn’t see the ending.When she died, she could not have known the role she played in changing the world. She would only have looked back and thought, "Well, my life didn't go the way I expected!"

I think most of us will never know how the twists and turns in our lives have an impact on eternity. However, God does. 

Maybe you’re like me; maybe life hasn’t turned out the way you expected. If today, you’re sitting with many unmet expectations I invite you to pray this:

A Prayer for When Life Doesn't Turn Out Like You Expect:

God, our lives haven’t turned out the way we expected. At times we’re equally grateful, tired, and full of questions.

Teach us, Father, how to be our strength in our weakness.

Show us, how to not be afraid of tomorrow; to believe you are in control.

Remind us, your grace is enough.

Meet us in our expectations. Fill us with joy, fill us with peace, and let our lives brim over with hope.

Provide us with what we need, when we need it, to make it through this. Give us the eyes we need to see how you are working everything out for our good.

God, help us to be brave and not give up. Keep us looking to you when we feel like we can’t anymore. May our eyes and heart always be expecting you to get here soon, to revive us.

May your strength be our song and salvation, we pray. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

This article is part of our larger Prayers resource meant to inspire and encourage your prayer life when you face uncertain times. Visit our most popular prayers if you are wondering how to pray or what to pray. Remember, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us and God knows your heart even if you can't find the words to pray.


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A Prayer for When You're Overwhelmed by Fear
A Prayer for a Broken Heart
A Prayer for Worry
A Prayer for First Thing in the Morning
A Prayer for Stress

Photo by Julien Lux on Unsplash  

Wendy van Eyck is married to Xylon, who talks non-stop about cycling, and makes her laugh. She writes for anyone who has ever held a loved one’s hand through illness, ever believed in God despite hard circumstances or ever left on a spontaneous 2-week holiday through a foreign land with just a backpack. You can follow Wendy’s story and subscribe to receive her free ebook, “Life, life and more life” at ilovedevotionals.com. She would also love to connect with you on Facebook and Twitter.