I like surprises. I know not everyone does, and I honestly can’t understand that. But I love when I know something amazing is coming and the thrill of anticipation leading up to it. I think I’ve always been that way… Christmas, birthdays, surprise trips, unexpected gifts. All of the “guess what?” moments in life trigger a childlike joy in me.
A perfect example was our 25th wedding anniversary. My husband planned something for us to do and asked if I wanted to know what it was. My passionate reply? “Absolutely not!” He did tell me the day before that we were flying somewhere, but I did not know the plan until we arrived at the gate. Even then, I knew our destination but not what adventures were to come. Every moment that he had planned, every step, every car ride, the entire weekend felt like an extended Christmas morning experience, opening one package after another. I will never forget that trip because it was beyond anything I had expected or imagined.
Now, those were good surprises. But you may be wondering, what about the bad ones — the lost job, the lost child, the lost marriage. What about the bad diagnosis, the bankruptcy, the foreclosure, the tax audit? Well, I don’t like those surprises. They fill me with anxiety and fear. I struggle to hold on to faith asking God, “why?” I desperately search Scriptures for a promise to pull me through.
I know that we are to come to God with a spirit of expectation. But, if I’m honest, I don’t always know what to expect. If I come to Him with expectations of miracles, and healing, and supernatural victories and He chooses not to do those things then I am disappointed or hurt. Those feelings aren’t because God didn’t come through; they are because my expectations weren’t in alignment with His plan. When I brought this questions to God He reminded me of the trip to New York City. My excitement stemmed from having no idea of what was going to happen. It would not have been nearly as joyful for me if I had known the plan. It would have been good, but not the same. My childlike excitement came from the surprise. I only had to trust the surprise was good.
Do you know that the only surprises God plans for us are good? When we fully recognize His goodness and His love for us it enables us to come to Him in prayer with that same excitement of, “Where are we going? I can’t wait to find out!” Yes, bad things happen in this life, but those are not His surprises. His surprise for us today is what He is going to do in the middle of it. And after it. And when the next adventure comes.
Jeremiah 29:11 is one of the most quoted Scriptures, you can get it on lunchboxes, journal covers, coffee cups, t-shirts, and probably a million other things, but the verse is pulled from a chapter of the Bible that also contains warnings of what is to come — continued captivity, pressure to conform, deceit, and poverty. His Word to the children of Israel, is don’t let your circumstances turn you away from Who I am. I am a good Father who gives good gifts. He promises, “when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you…” (verses 12-14).
- Do you believe that God truly has only good surprises for you? What about His character proves this to be true?
- Write about a time when you were excited for something that was to come. How did the experience live up to your expectations, or not?
- People fail us, but God does not. List times when you may have attributed disappointment to God instead of human failure or wrong expectations. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you how He was working in the middle of each disappointment.