Speaking of Life 5050 | Expect the Unexpected
We typically don’t like the unexpected. We don’t like it when our car unexpectedly refuses to turn over, or our computer unexpectedly crashes. Worse, an unexpected loss of employment creates great turmoil and loss of personal confidence. And we certainly don’t like unexpected health difficulties. But these are the realities we face, and we quickly learn to expect the unexpected along with all the frustration and heartache it can bring.
However, not all things unexpected are bad. An unexpected gift or raise can turn a sour day around in a hurry. I’m sure we can all remember with joy some unexpected blessing that came our way, large or small.
So, here’s a question. What should we expect from the Lord? Is he full of unexpected surprises?
The biblical witness seems to present… well, an unexpected answer to that question. We are presented with a God who is unchanging, yet, at the same time, full of unexpected surprises.
Listen to Psalm 107 the paradox of God’s unchanging nature described by images of unexpected natural events.
“Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! Let them extol him in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.
He turns rivers into a desert, springs of water into thirsty ground, a fruitful land into a salty waste, because of the evil of its inhabitants. He turns a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water. And there he lets the hungry dwell, and they establish a city to live in; they sow fields and plant vineyards and get a fruitful yield.”
Psalm 107:31-37 (ESV)
It’s interesting how the psalmist refers to the Lord’s steadfast love but then equates that steadfastness with images of great reversals. It appears that the Lord is steadfast in bringing the unexpected. But did you notice the direction of the unexpected? It was always for blessing. We can expect the rivers of evil to run dry, while also expecting the deserts of his children to become fruitful.
With God, there is always good news ahead. Rivers run dry, but he refills them. Deserts become springs of water. Sinners become believers and followers of Christ. It’s easy to look around and get discouraged at the state of the world, so Jesus tells us to lift our eyes and gaze upon him. He is the restorer of all things. He is the one who works his blessings in unexpected ways.
As we wind down the season of Ordinary Time and enter the season of Advent, let’s continually look to him and learn to expect the unexpected. Ordinary Time ends with Christ the King Sunday – and no one expected the King of kings to enter our world as he did. God loves to surprise with the unexpected – it’s part of the mystery of who he is.
I’m Greg Williams, Speaking of Life.