Right now . . .
Everything you are going through . . .
None of it is a surprise to God!
Nothing is a surprise to God.
I have said these six words over and over in these first six months of 2023. As this year started, I spent time asking the Lord for direction on what was He calling me to focus on in the months ahead. I wrote out what was on my heart, adding to the continued list of prayer I’ve had for several years now. I was sure there would be a breakthrough for several of those things by now.
Entering summer, the challenges of my days haven’t lightened; they have grown. In fact, I can’t recall a week in recent months when something unexpected has NOT popped up. I long for predictable days when life is comfortable and predictable and Jesus provides relief. However, from the beginning of time, “relief” and “predictability” aren’t words Jesus uses about walking with Him. We may be surprised, yet He is never surprised; those words bring comfort when relief is nowhere in sight.
I thought of this while reading through John 14 the other day. The passage is so familiar, it can easily lose its powerful message. This time, I released my imagination to wonder what the disciples and Jesus experienced in the upper room together that night. Remember, they were closer than close. They were together, leaning on each other, learning completely new ways of thinking, living, and loving like no one had ever taught them.
In it all, nothing that happened was a surprise to God.
John 14 comes on the heels of John 13 where Jesus says He will be betrayed by one of the guys in the room, that Peter will deny knowing Him, and some other things they cannot get their minds around. In all, most of what Jesus said was utterly confusing to all of them. They loved Jesus dearly and longed to understand what He was saying but it was far beyond human understanding.
May I interject this truth: most of what God allows, what He calls us to do, where He calls us, what He entrusts to us, what He permits . . . we will never, N E V E R understand on this side of heaven. Confusion does NOT mean God is wrong or needs enlightenment; it means you and I are human and will never comprehend our sovereign, good, loving Savior. Let go of trying to make sense of it all. The enemy gains huge grounds when we allow confusion to dictate our faith and direction.
Moving on . . . As they are trying to understand, Jesus continues in chapter 14. He begins with, “Do not let your hearts be troubled, trust me” (John 14:1). Just stop! While they’re confused, Jesus continues to tell them more things that don’t make sense while asking them to simply TRUST.
Jesus tells them He is going away to prepare a place for them in His Father’s house. Then He tells them that, in His absence, a newbie is showing up for them who will be their (and our) advocate and strength, a powerful comfort for all the days of their lives . . . and our lives.
“But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:26-27)
AT THE TIME, they had no idea what life without Jesus would be like. He was their beloved friend whom they had given up everything for. While this was shocking news to the disciples, this was no surprise to God. His plan was unfolding perfectly. For the disciples, having given up everything they owned and knew, the loss felt catastrophic.
As true as Jesus’ words were to the disciples, they are true for you and me today. Tomorrow is unknown, and what He is allowing today is not a surprise to Him. Today’s sorrows are preparation for you to welcome what He sends your way in His time and in His way. So we wait and trust and repeat . . . Nothing is a surprise to God.
In the days ahead, the disciples would come to find the Holy Spirit was the most vital person, a gift for the rest of their days. And today, you have no idea what is to come. In your grief and sorrow, there is a good plan unfolding. Trust Him. Nothing is a surprise to our God.
Thus, the Holy Spirit is an “Advocate,” One who pleads, defends, and intercedes on our behalf. When we have no words for our sorrow, the Holy Spirit knows what our souls are trying to say. When we have no defense, the Holy Spirit provides our judicial needs and defends us. When we cannot speak our needs, we have One who intercedes for us. In addition, the Holy Spirit is our comforter, a source of strength and power no human can provide. He is given to remind us of God’s faithfulness throughout all time, of His miracles that continue, and that His grace and love are abounding and unconditional. When life makes no sense, the Holy Spirit provides peace as we walk in obedience and faith. He reminds us that nothing is a surprise to God. His plan may not be understood but it is right and good.
Wherever you are today, God is not surprised. Just as I continue to pray and be surprised at what He brings my way, He isn’t calling me or you to make sense of it all. He’s calling you and me to trust Him. In every way, trusting Him means you are trusting the One who knows what He is doing, has a plan, and comforts you through the Holy Spirit. Invite all of God into your life today and see where He leads.
And remember . . . NOTHING today is a surprise to God. He is good. Trust Him now.
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In When Life Isn't Fair: What They Didn't Tell Us in Sunday School, Colleen Swindoll Thompson weaves together biblical truth, practicality, and her own growth experiences as a mother of a son with special needs. She writes with raw honesty about her personal crisis of faith as well as the hardship and humor that come with learning to trust God through difficult times.