Why Am I Surprised?

I love surprises. Do you?

Have you ever had a friend call you, or race up to you so excited to tell you some great news? To share with you something that God has done in their lives? Have you ever had that awful phone call in the middle of the night? Every time the phone rings in the middle of the night, my blood runs cold because any phone call that comes in after midnight just can't be good news.

Over the past few weeks a great deal has happened in the life of Tapestry, the radio show, and in the lives of friends both new and old. Much of what has happened was been fantastic, and some of it has absolutely sucked. But they have all been surprises.

I was praying with a friend today about some of the great things that are going on in his life, and I remember thanking God for all of the wonderful things that are happening, and thanking God for how amazing He has been to my friend and their ministry. I also apologized for being surprised by Him. I feel a bit guilty saying things like, "Wow! I can't believe God did that!"

Have you ever wondered why we get surprised when God comes through? Isn't that what He does?

I love all the positive ways that God does come through. I love to hear stories about how He has come through for a friend at the last possible second - as long as those stories don't involve me. I love to watch cliff-hangers, but I don't want to be in one. Those stories are so much fun, and we never miss the fact that God was there. We don't even have to say it - we just know.

Why are we so slow to find God in surprises that are not so great? Why is it that when bad things happen, our immediate question is "Where did you go, God? Where are you?" If it's not those questions, we may quickly tell friends "You just won't believe what Satan did to me today..." We assume that somehow God took a break, and Satan pounced on us.

We easily forget that we serve a God who is sovereign. Go back to Job 1, and catch this terrifying discussion between Satan and God: 6-7 One day when the angels came to report to God, Satan, who was the Designated Accuser, came along with them. God singled out Satan and said, "What have you been up to?"

Satan answered God, "Going here and there, checking things out on earth."

8 God said to Satan, "Have you noticed my friend Job? There's no one quite like him—honest and true to his word, totally devoted to God and hating evil."

9-10 Satan retorted, "So do you think Job does all that out of the sheer goodness of his heart? Why, no one ever had it so good! You pamper him like a pet, make sure nothing bad ever happens to him or his family or his possessions, bless everything he does—he can't lose!

11 "But what do you think would happen if you reached down and took away everything that is his? He'd curse you right to your face, that's what."

12 God replied, "We'll see. Go ahead—do what you want with all that is his. Just don't hurt him." Then Satan left the presence of God.

Does it terrify you that a conversation like that could take place about you? The key to the conversation is that God holds Satan's leash. There is only so far he can go. God tells him, "Do what you want with all that is his, but don't hurt him." Later on in chapter 1, a frustrated Satan returns and asks for a bit more lead in his leash, and God grants it.

Job takes a beating, and even his formerly supportive wife says, "Why don't you curse God and die." As my friend Dr. Smith says, "he was caught between I can't go on, and I can't give up." Have you ever been there? Just wondering where God has gone? Have you been caught between I can't go on, and I can't give up? Are you there right now?

Seems that is where lots of my community is right now. We've had the suicide of a young son. We have a divorce in progress. We have couples coming that are dealing with multiple issues from infidelity to unemployment and communication problems. We have folks looking for work. We have people in custody battles. We have people in desperate financial straits. We don't have much money, so we can't help them. We have one and sometimes two friends that are HIV+. We have people struggling with anxiety and depression. I talk with them and they are all caught between I can't go on, and I can't give up.

It is very easy to think where is God in these situations? How could he let these things happen? Where are the good surprises, God?

When you are dangling from that rope, life gets very difficult, doesn't it? You really do feel the tension of feeling unable to go on, but knowing you can't give up. It's so difficult. But because God is sovereign, and we know that what is happening in our lives has been allowed by him. It has been filtered through his fingers of love, and He has purpose in it. There is always purpose in pain and in pleasure.

So - where are you today? Are things great for you? If so, I'm happy for you! Or are you caught between I can't go on, and I can't give up?

Remember the storm where Jesus was asleep in the boat? The disciples knew what it was like to live between I can't go on and I can't give up. What do you do with a sleeping Jesus? Be glad He's in the boat with you! He has promised to never leave or forsake you. Never. He's there, and available to you. He knows what is happening to you. He cares for you. He loves you, and when your situation feels hopeless remember that you are a follower of Jesus Christ and that He has conquered death. Conquered Death! That means He can overcome your challenges, too. I mean he conquered death for crying out loud!

I'm learning this - in this life we will have surprises, both good and bad. But you know what? A dead God will never surprise you.

1 Response to "Why Am I Surprised?"

  • Abbey Says:

    I love imagining things being "filtered through His fingers of love".
    I don't often consider that when I'm on the "can't go on" end of life, which is less often now, but still exists.

    And what hope there is in the "surprises" when you know they can only come from a God who is alive!

    Good post.