Expect The Unexpected

At the beginning of 2017, I felt the word God gave me for the year was the word “joy”. I thought, “What a great year this is going to be! Joy! That is awesome!”  Then, ten people connected to us passed away in the first 10 months of the year.  I thought, “At this rate, no one is going to want to hang out with us.”  Then, two hurricanes devastated areas were our family and friends live. Two earthquakes hit Mexico, affecting the family and loved ones of people in our church and in our community. Monsoon rains came to India, devastating areas in the north of India where we have done ministry for the last five years. We had two kids in college.  We transitioned to empty nesters (that didn’t last long, my mother-in-law moved in with us).  We had changes in ministry roles. For us, it was a difficult year; a year of change, a year of loss, a year of tragedy.  A difficult season to believe, to trust and to pray. A year when things didn’t go as planned. I felt like our faith was being tested and our beliefs shaken to the core.

Many times, it is so hard to believe in the promises of God when things don’t turn out the way you expect them to.

It is hard to dream when you have lost your job or you are overlooked and don’t get that promotion. It is hard to hope when you find yourself in the middle of a divorce. It is hard to expect when you have been single for a while and there are no good prospects in sight. It is so hard to believe when your children are not making the right decisions.  When retirement does not turn out to be what you thought it would be.  When you don’t know how you will get out debt or how you will pay next month’s rent. How difficult it is to declare freedom when the addiction that nobody knows about is killing you inside. How difficult it is to pray and believe for healing when your body is afflicted with a long-term illness.  How difficult it is to declare that the Lord is your banner when you don’t know what decision to make. How difficult is it to hope when your world seems to be falling apart. How difficult it is to believe when your dreams seem dead.

But God knew we would have moments like these in which it would be hard to believe and difficult to hope.  Moments where we would become so aware of our dependence on God and our need of an updraft of grace.

In Romans 4:17-25, Paul gives us an example of what to do to get into that updraft of grace.  He recounts part of Abraham’s story.  “As it is written: ‘I have made you a father of many nations.’ He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.”

Paul is saying an updraft comes when, against all odds, you choose to believe in the God that gives life to the dead and calls into being things that are not; that God that makes something out of nothing.

Paul gives us another cue to get into the updraft. He says, “believe against all hope”. Romans 4:18 says “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed.”  This doesn’t mean deny your physical reality.  It just means that you are fully persuaded that God has the power to intervene in your situation.  You position yourself in that place of belief that doesn’t deny reality, yet stubbornly trusts God.

For all of us, there are moments when things don’t turn out the way you expected them to. So, make the decision beforehand; be prepared with your response.  Say, “When things don’t go my way, I choose to believe in the God that gives life to the dead and makes something out of nothing.  Yes, this is how I will act!”

You may be facing adversity today and there may be a big impossibility in front of you, but God says hope, trust, and believe against all odds.

John Cruz

John Cruz

Executive Pastor - Chief of Staff