There is One Person who is never surprised. I'm not He. When surprises rock my world, He remains calm - not the calm of not caring, but the calm of knowing exactly what's going on (and why). He never panicks. He never reverts to Plan B. Yet, He experiences the pain of other people's surprises and is, more often than He deserves, the object of their blame for these unwelcome surprises. Yet there are some who have learned that life's unpleasant surprises are best handled by looking to rather than at God. Like a prodigy watching his Master's every move, I gaze at the Unsurpisable and learn. Although I can't see what He sees, I can see Him. Unruffled, content, assured. I admire this.
The eyes of all look to you...
It's surprising how surprising surprises are. You'd think that we would accept them as a normal part of our journeys. Alas. Perhaps the amount we are surprised is proportional to the amount we thought we were in control of our lives. Perhaps the extent of our surprise is due to the belief that God will ensure nothing painful ever happens to us. Perhaps the depth of our surprise is the related to the level of our self-absorption. Whatever the cause, we are all surprised.
Surprises can be pleasant. Last Sunday in church Kim and I were presented with a gift from the church to help us celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. We were surprised by this. Pleasantly surprised. It enabled us to get away for a night. To enjoy a tryst. To experience a very surprising meal together in a restaurant, alone. But I'm not thinking of such pleasant surprises. I'm thinking about the kind of surprises that have paid some of us a visit this year. Surprised by loss. Surprised by cancer. Surprised by surgery. Surprised by breakdown. Surprised by divorce. Unpleasant surprises. Painful surprises.
King David was surprised that his sexual liaison with another man's wife led to her becoming pregnant. After he arranged the murder of her husband, he was surprised that God both knew and was angered by it. When he took the woman as his wife he was surprised that the child was born sickly. He was surprised to have Nathan the Prophet pay him a visit and charge him with wrong-doing. He was surprised that his son's health deteriorated. But then he looked to the Non-Surprised One and began to see things differently.
When David's son died, he was not overcome with surprise (the disappointment kind).
But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David understood that the child was dead. And David said to his servants, "Is the child dead?" They said, "He is dead."
Second Samuel 12:19
Unwelcome surprises will come you way. When they do, you can shake your fist at God in anger, or, you can raise your open hand to God in surrender and worship Him.
Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped. He then went to his own house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate.
Second Samuel 12:20
The Apostle Paul began his journey with Christ by being surprised. While on the road to Damascus he encountered an all-too-glorious appearance of Christ and was knocked off his horse to the ground. His life story reads like an exposition of the art of surprises. He is initially surprised by the Church's rejection of him. He is surprised by Barnabas's acceptance of him. He is surprised by his countrymen's hatred of him. He is surprised by how quickly he understands the deepest mysteries of God's eternal plan. He is surprised by how the Holy Spirit transforms him from being a Pharisaical Law Keeper into a Grace-Changed Forgiving Follower of Christ. And one day he is preaching in Philippi and was surprised to find that he was now in prison for his obedience to God. But rather than looking at God he does what David did, he looked to God, and worshiped Him in the midst of his unwelcome surprises.
¶ About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them
Sickness, injury, loss, betrayal, will come our way (Romans 8:20). We can be overcome by such surprises, or we can worship the One who is Unsurprisable and begin to experience a new peace that comes from such worshipful trust.