What Did We Expect?



As I look around my little corner of the world, it seems like there are more than a few challenges going on in the lives of most everyone I know.


Peeking beyond that to a broader view beyond my corner, I see even more challenges. It’s a bit like looking at range after range of mountains that do not end.


The challenges come in all sizes and shapes.


They come no matter what the season we are in.


Some challenges are ones we choose and are for some good goal, but others come unbidden by us.


It’s one thing to choose to run a marathon, take a rigorous college program, signup for the military, or go on a mission trip. Those are all tough, but it’s those other challenges we didn’t sign up for that can seem especially daunting.


None of us sign up for accidents, a job loss, a failed relationship, a diagnosis of cancer, the death of a child, abuse, or a betrayal in ministry, but some of these and others I did not name still come anyway.


What is amazing to me is that somehow we can be so shocked when life doesn’t work out or go according to our plans. What did we expect?


At it’s very best life is an adventure. At its worst, life is a trial or a series of trials that may feel never ending.


Somehow some part of us still likes to believe in the illusion that we have more control than we do or were ever meant to have. Some of us believe if we follow the rules, are just good enough, or make very few mistakes, everything will be fairly smooth.


When things don’t work out that way, fear, anger, or hopelessness can paralyze us.


We want life to be safe (at least relatively speaking). As believers, we especially want to feel the safety and protection of the Lord with a confidence He will keep us from harm. When life hands us a different menu, we question whether God is good or who we believe He says He is (more often than we might want to admit).


I love the C.S. Lewis Narnia series. It is so rich in meaning and depth. One favorite scene in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is when the children ask the beavers if Aslan is safe. The beavers respond that he isn’t safe, but he is good.


Having confidence in God’s goodness is one of the linchpins of faith. When it is absent, our trust falters, our faith melts away like an ice cream cone on a summer’s day, and hope flickers like the wick at the end of a candle.


Here’s the truth we forget. We are caught up in a great story, a great adventure. It has been that way from the very beginning. Our challenge is to accept the challenge, move forward in the adventure, and keep the linchpin in place so in Him we triumph against all the odds that might be arrayed against us.


You see, as I read through THE STORY (the Bible), I see that truth everywhere.


Life is scary despite all the beautiful, exciting, wonderful things we discover in the adventure.


If that sounds unrealistic, ask Noah, Moses, Jonah, or the long list of heroes of the faith we learn about through His Word. Sure, we know they are heroes now, but if you could ask them if they felt that way when the flood was raging, the Red Sea lay ahead, or the belly of a whale was home, I doubt they would tell you they felt no fear.


So how did they become heroes? What did they do with the fear they experienced? What can we learn from them on our own adventures?


I think the key is something I heard quite some time ago.


Courage isn’t the absence of fear, but the byproduct we receive when we face our fear.


Ask any Medal of Honor recipient if they felt courageous when they threw themselves in harm’s way to save another and the answer will definitely be they did not. What happened in one terrifying moment’s time caused them to step into the situation for the sake of someone else, and God met them there.


That’s what He did with Joshua and every other favorite hero of the Bible.


I am reminded of one of Corrie Ten Boom’s stories of her life with her sister, Betsy, in Auschwitz during WW II. As Corrie was seeking to encourage Betsy as they faced unspeakable horrors and fears, she told her a story. She reminded her of trips they would make on a train with their father. Corrie brought back to Betsy’s memory how their father would not give them their tickets for the train until it was time to board the train because they wouldn’t need them until then.


Corrie gave a marvelous example of how God meets us just at that greatest point of fear and gives us just a few seconds to face it only to realize His gift of courage.


That’s the key to dismantling fear that cripples us.


“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.”  2 Cor. 4:7 (ESV)






32 thoughts on “What Did We Expect?

  1. Unexpected things will always show up. It’s our reaction that is important. Do we want God to find us running toward Him or cowering in fear? Either way God is with his children.

  2. It’s really amazing that we can always look back and see how God orchestrated things for us. Yes, He doesn’t always take away the struggle, but He brings good things out of it. Sometimes, it is pretty surprising …

    Praying for your family to see good coming your way.

  3. Love this. No, life never goes as planned. And part of that is God’s plan for us. I know I would not grow much if my life was predictable and perfect. Luckily we know the end of the story. So we can face life confidently.

    1. Thank you, Theresa. Your observations are very much on point. Most of us who have walked with the Lord for some time would say that we grew more during the less than perfect and unpredictable things life brought our way.

  4. Thank you, Pam! I love the reminder that God meets us at our greatest point of fear and as we step into it, He meets us with a fresh outpouring of courage. So grateful that He is always there.

    1. Thanks, Carlie! Often what I write is first God’s reminder to me. Grateful indeed He is always there even if He doesn’t show up in the way I wish.

    1. I guess I expected God to keep harm from me. I believe Jeremiah 29: 11 says that God’s plan is to not bring harm, to give us a hope and future. I know that you will say that God isn’t responsible for the troubles, hardships, suffering we experience everyday. At the very least, God allows this “harm” to happen. To me this seems like God’s plan includes a lot of “harm”. If I watch someone beat another person to death and do nothing to stop it then I am just as guilty as the person inflicting the beating. But we aren’t to look at God in this way. Why? Because God said so in the Bible. God created Satan (knowing that Satan was evil), thus God created evil. BUT we are told that God isn’t responsible for what He created. Don’t blame God for evil. What I am saying is this: if God allows harm to happen, then God is also responsible for it. I have a hard time with thanking God for all the good things He created, while not blaming Him for the bad things he created. GOD MADE EVERYTHING, THUS GOD IS RESPONSIBLE FOR EVERYTHING!
      Thanks for allowing me to say my piece. And God Bless You, in Jesus name, Amen

      1. God is both completely good and completely sovereign. In Job we have to wrestle with this question. Is God completely good and yet permits suffering? Is God sovereign and yet sometimes allows us to experience terrible tragedy and trial? The answer is yes. I think we have to get away from thinking that God is like man and that each individual has the right to be the center of God’s world. He is not like us but became one of us… enduring hardship, beatings, alienation, ultimately crucifixion for the guilt of himself? Or me?

        For the joy set before him, he endured the cross! He did not ‘heal himself’… did not leave those splintered boards, though he could have. His goal was not his comfort but sin and death’s final resolution. They don’t have victory ultimately. But that perspective is eternal…

        Our experience is temporal but we worship an eternal God. We live in the now and the not yet. Our bodies here, but they will one day die… and yet my soul won’t taste it’s own body’s death. It’s eternity has already come. It lives in eternity to come TODAY! It’s an amazing reality.

        Will troubles, trials, famine, misfortunes, unfair cancers, come? They will continue in this fallen world. But the world eternal is not fallen. God DID come! He IS doing. But his plans and ways are bigger, higher, and wider than my own particular piece of his puzzle. I live for him and not for myself.

        Believers must wrestle with this. We can’t live for his glory AND our own. We can’t live in a fallen world and not expect to experience its fallenness. THIS is not heaven… and we wouldn’t yearn for it or him, if all felt like it was already here.

        Do I want my God to be small and fairy godmother like? Or big enough to heal cancer and carry Elijah to heaven and part the seas of the world… even should he choose to not for a greater purpose! I want the bigger God, the greater purpose every time!!

        Thank you for risking sharing your piece. God bless you richly and may He meet you at every turn and you find Him faithful.

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