This is not how I thought my life would work out!!!

Have you ever had those thoughts. Your life has ended up in a place you never thought you would be. Like a detour or dead end and a road trip, this is not the route you planned.

Maybe today your marriage isn’t what you dreamed on your wedding day. Or perhaps that little baby you brought home from the hospital has now broken your heart as they are older. Or maybe your Christian life is not as fulfilling as it was when you first trusted Christ – you should be growing but you feel like you are defeated.

Christians can be discouraged because life doesn’t advance as expect. Even the Apostle Paul discovered that plans change. But God is still in control and will fulfill His desires in our life and in the world. God wants to use every Christian in a greater capacity that we could ever imagine. If your plans fail, God’s will not. We need to hang on to His promises…

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, tho them who are the called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28

In all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. – Romans 8:37

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unlovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. – 1 Corinthians 15:58

One of those promises that is often overlooked is 2 Corinthians 2:14…

Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and taketh manifest the savor of his knowledge by us in every place.

Paul’s plan to visit Corinth was interrupted. In addition, he abandoned a successful ministry in Troas because he was stressed out about what was going on in Corinth. But in spite of Paul’s feelings, God had it all under control and brought about a victory. God always brings victory in every place.

One of the fundamental points of 2 Corinthians is that God loves to work through weakness in order to bring glory to Himself. Paul’s trials and missteps did not disqualify him from preaching the gospel. Instead, such weakness and suffering made him a perfect channel for God’s grace, God’s message and God’s power.

God leads His children to victory to impact the world. The circumstances Paul went through were not comfortable and he could not explain the detours and disappointments. But Paul was sure that God was in control and was always leading him to victory. We have that same promise.

The Lord will give you victory in every circumstance, and He will give you that victory in Jesus Christ.  

The ‘triumph’ Paul talks about has a parallel in Roman history. If a commander won a complete victory over the enemy on foreign soil, killed at least 5,000 enemy soldiers, and gained new territory for the Emperor, he was given a Roman Triumph. The commander rode in a golden chariot surrounded by his officers. The parade would include a display of the spoils of battle, including enemy soldiers. The Roman priests would be in the parade burning incense to pay tribute to the victorious army.

For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. (2 Corinthians 2:15-16)

Paul says we are like the incense. To God, believers are the very fragrance of Jesus Christ. But to people, our fragrance has differing reactions. To one it means death, to the other it means life.

When Christians share the gospel message, it is good news to some and bad news to others. Paul painted a stark contrast. There is no middle ground. There is the pathway to life and the pathway to death. Jesus presented the same contrast: “Wide is the gate and broad is the path that leads to destruction and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matt. 7:13-14). Moses spoke of the same contrast to the Israelites: “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, that you and your descendants might live!” (Deut. 30:19).

I see this different response to the message most distinctly at funerals. When I speak of the resurrection before the casket of a loved one, I always get two very different responses from people in the gathering. Though all of them grieve the loss of their friend, loved one, or family member, only some rejoice in the hope of eternal life and reunion at the resurrection. Those who have eternal life in Christ receive the message of resurrection as a sweet-smelling aroma of life. Others in the crowd, however, reject the message of the resurrection, regarding it as superstitious—a useless crutch to get us through the unpleasant, hard realities of life. To them, the message of salvation in Christ is a dead message—not of hope, but of death. The very same message of salvation in Jesus Christ can be received as the smell of life or of death, depending on whether people approach it in faith or unbelief.

Our life may not be going as planned. But God has already promised you victory in this life and that victory will never end.