Be Surprised By God

Be Surprised By God

Preacher Huijun - 26 March 2022

Weekend Devotion: Be Surprised By God

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I’m not sure if you like surprises? To some people, surprises are fun and exciting. Yet, others may not like surprises as they want to be in control of their lives rather than be caught off guard. Some wives may also tell their husbands not to give them surprise gifts as they worry they may not like what they receive; they would rather choose the gifts themselves.

 

Our God is a God of surprises.

As we can see in the Bible, God surprised the Israelites when He opened the Red Sea for them to cross on dry land when they thought they were doomed as they were trapped in front and behind. God surprised king David’s father when He chose to anoint his youngest and seemingly unremarkable son as the future king of Israel. Then God also surprised Mary when she was told she would be pregnant with the Son of God though she was still a virgin. In addition, God surprisingly chose sinners like tax collector Matthew as His disciple, and showed mercy to another tax collector Zacchaeus. The Bible is full of God’s surprising acts. Some of them brought relief, as in case for the Israelites when God opened the Red Sea, but some of them might bring apprehension, as for the case of Mary who had to face pregnancy before marriage. And the greatest surprise of all? Jesus allowed Himself to die but came back from the dead after 3 days and surprised everyone (including His discouraged disciples) with His resurrection. Ultimately, Jesus will surprise us with the timing of His second coming, so we need to be prepared for that too.

 

Therefore, we need to put down our pre-conceived idea of God’s ways.

We all have our own ideas of how God should answer our prayers, how He should help us, what He should give us and so on. And whenever God does not meet our expectations or give us what we want or when He allow unanticipated suffering to befall us, we will then accuse God of wrongdoing and blame Him for lacking love. But we must be clear that God’s work is not confined to our expectations or desires. God does not think like humans; His ways are beyond human understanding. As (Isa 55:8-9) says: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

In fact, God does not work according to human logic and worldly wisdom. “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God…For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom” (1 Co 1:18, 25). Indeed, God’s wisdom looks like foolishness to us sometimes. His answers seem like problems to us; instead of blessings, they look like troubles. However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”— the things God has prepared for those who love him— (1 Co 2:9).

Thus, we have reason to hope in God’s promises, even when things don’t look good to us. We can still trust that God will surprise us for our good and for His glory.

 

Have the faith and willingness to let God surprise us.

Because whether God surprises us with more than what we asked for or much less than what we prayed for, His ways are still higher and better than our ways. Yet, I know it is often hard to be open to what God is to do with our life, as there is always a fear of what if God’s plan is not to our liking; or it could be hard to trust that God can bring any blessing out of troubles or weaknesses. That is why I like the word “surprise”, for it means that God can do what is unthinkable to our human expectations. We may think that what we don’t like is surely bad, and we tend to think that trouble is only trouble without any bit of good, we thought our weakness will always hinder us; but it doesn’t have to be that way, God can surprise us. What we don’t like may end up being beneficial to us, while troubles and weaknesses may turn us to God, resulting in us receiving help from Him. 

Therefore, we can pray for God to surprise us today, even in our weaknesses, limitations, fears, and trials. Prayer is one way by which we can open ourselves to accept God’s surprises. When we quiet ourselves to think about His love, we can trust that God will never fail us.

 

However, importantly, we should only anticipate surprises which are grounded on the truth of the Bible. 

While we cannot confine God’s work to our limited human thinking, we also should not wait for surprises that God never promise, or surprises that stem from our own desires but not grounded on God’s word. For example, we often hear Christians say that God will always heal sickness if we pray with faith, or that God will always remove all our sufferings. Though God can surely heal illnesses and take away sufferings, that may not be His absolute will for all cases while we are still on earth. Thus, these distorted teachings delude us to anticipate surprises that God does not absolutely promise to fulfil. If we blindly raise our hopes for such surprises, we may be disappointed easily and lose faith in God.

Therefore, it is important to base our anticipation for surprises on what God promises, not on what we one-sidedly hope for. Sure, we can pray and hope for healing and the end of suffering, but when that doesn’t come, we must not think that God has failed us. He may just want to surprise us in another unexpected way.

 

Dear brothers and sisters, may we learn to appreciate God’s surprises. Especially when we face discouragement and trials, let us be surprised by how God can sustain us, bring His good will out of even suffering, and help us be victorious in Him. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ep 3:20-21)

Preacher Huijun
Preacher Huijun
huijun@lifechurchmissions.com

Huijun joined The Life Church and Missions (Singapore) as a preacher in 2012. She is effectively bilingual and preaches occasionally at the Chinese service. She graduated from Singapore Bible College and currently lives in Singapore with her husband, Chengji.

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