Don't Be Surprised

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How do you respond to unexpected circumstances in life?

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed—1 Peter 4:12.

Sometimes life hurts. You don’t have to look very far to find pain in your own life or in the lives of others. A few years ago I donated blood for a thirteen-year-old girl whose father was a dear friend and fellow staff member. “Julie” had been experiencing a quickly deteriorating condition affecting her brain and spinal column; a condition requiring surgery. The surgery would be long, complicated, and followed by weeks of challenging recovery and painful physical therapy. Certainly not a situation any parent plans on or expects for their children. What a painful experience. 

Each week, as we review and pray through the Fellowship Registers at our church, we see the “norm” of the unexpected. The pain experienced by those in our church is sometimes overwhelming. Unplanned events and circumstances create a dynamic that can deplete faith, cause discouragement, and stir up doubt.  

What do we do when our plans are interrupted, when things don’t go as we had expected? How might we see our interrupted plans or expectations through the “lens” of a loving God? Bottom line, how are we to respond as Christians when life hurts? 

Don’t Be Surprised 

Look at the verses above, “Don’t be surprised... ” We know what we expect to happen in any given circumstance. When I walk into a violin recital for my daughters, I expect to hear instruments being tuned; I expect to see camera flashes capturing precious moments for proud parents. I watch as boys, perhaps wearing their first tie, have an uncomfortable look that says I’m-choking-in-this-get-up. No surprises there. Why? Because at a recital, I know what to expect.  

So when we enter a world ravaged by the consequences of sin and sinful people, we ought not to be surprised. I love how Peter puts it, “As though some strange thing were happening.” All the trials should be expected. We respond better when we know what to expect. Unplanned illness, death, and unforeseen circumstances are all possibilities in a world that has chosen to walk away from the one who created it all. Don’t be surprised.  

Journal:

  • How do I respond to unexpected circumstances in my life?
  • How do I need to change my thinking about what life may hold?

Prayer – Father, Your Word says to expect many trials in this life, that this place is not our home and we shouldn’t expect it to be like Your home. But Father, I have to admit that I get surprised by what comes my way so many times each day. Help prepare me to look to You when that happens, and not be so surprised that I can’t respond in a manner that glorifies You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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