No matter how many plans we make, how many goals we set, how many roads we map out, #LifeHappens when we least expect it.

The refrigerator goes on the fritz, we’re caught in traffic, we lose our jobs, the car breaks down, friends betray us, our computers crash at the worst possible moments.

Hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, lions, tigers, and bears. Oh my! What to do? Wring our hands and say, “Woe is me!” or pray, pick ourselves up, and roll with the punches.

News Flash: None of us gets out of this life unscathed. Oh, we think some people do—rich people, famous people, bestselling authors, overnight successes. Nope. Everyone has problems.

Hardship will either make us or break us—make us quit trying or build our character. I think that’s God’s plan. If I may be so bold, I think He’s more interested in the content of our character than whether we fly around in a plane with our name emblazoned on the side. God doesn’t roll us up in heavenly bubble wrap to keep us safe. Until the Lord returns, we live in a fallen world, a dangerous world, a world full of pain.

But if we choose to look up, we also live in a world of exquisite beauty filled with joy. It’s a matter of perspective. The Bible says the joy of the Lord is our strength, and a merry heart doeth good like a medicine.

#LifeHappens. I thought I’d be a bestselling author by the time I was thirty. Au contraire, my friends. God had a different plan for my life no matter how much I kicked and screamed and fought Him. I hadn’t lived enough or experienced enough to write anything that would bring glory to God. I’m soooo glad He didn’t let me publish some of the things I wrote before I decided to hold His hand and let Him lead me.

That’s not to say there aren’t prodigies who publish the Great American Novel in their teen years. But my journey has been long and arduous. I’ve worn out a lot of hiking boots on the rocky trail of life. I’ve sloshed through a lot of swamps, stumbled through a lot of dark valleys, and scaled a lot of mountains.

Why is it that some people seem to buzz along in an expensive sports car on the freeway of life, and some of us slog through the mud? Who knows? But I bet they’ve got problems too.

Here are our choices: We can either live our lives keeping our eyes on Jesus, or we can spend valuable time envying those who are successful.

Someday, we’ll all stand on God’s mountaintop and be transformed. I doubt we’ll give a hoot about how many books we’ve sold.