Getting a phone call from my kid’s school can be a shocking experience, sometimes in a good way and sometimes not so good. It can also be shocking to hear about a friend going through a financial or health crisis, when you may have thought that everything with them was smoothy groovy. I like good shocking news and I dislike bad shocking news, much like you. So I loved getting the unexpected news earlier this year about Saving Moses receiving some unexpected funding, but I very much disliked the shocking experience of dropping my daughter off for college this Fall and driving away from her in a puddle of tears.
When we receive shocking news, go through alarming experiences, or observe something that’s startling, how do we handle that? How can we do this with grace and poise while seeing God’s sovereignty in the midst of uncertainty?
Stepping into experiences and situations that are unexpected can be massively challenging. For some of us who enjoy adventure, maybe the unexpected goes through the “fun and new” filter. For those of us who crave routine and stability, shocking news or experiences can be extremely difficult to navigate! So no matter if you love adventure and new stuff or if you crave predictable and routine, I firmly believe that we can find help with Jesus, regardless of the preferences of our personality.
Consider for a moment, the shock that Jesus’ disciples experienced in John 4 from observing Jesus talking with a Samaritan woman. Jesus’ behavior was totally unexpected because of the social norms of that day, keeping a strict separation between men and women conversing with each other unless they were married or connected in a familial context. To add more surprise to the disciples’ observation, it was highly unusual for Jews and Samaritans to have casual conversations because of the hostility that existed between these ethnic groups. The disciples were shocked by Jesus’ behavior!
Additionally, the townspeople were shocked to see the raving lunatic, who lived naked in the graveyard and was untamable, sitting fully sane and clothed talking with Jesus in Mark 5. The townspeople were so stunned from seeing the crazy man made sane, that they asked Jesus to go away from their town (maybe also because the herd of pigs jumped off a nearby cliff and drown in the Sea of Galilee).
In both of these scenarios, Jesus is the common denominator for the disciples’ shock. And in both of these scenarios, two people are drastically changed because of their encounters with Jesus, regardless of the spectators and bystanders who might have disapproved of Jesus’ choices.
As we think about stuff that can be shocking in our lives, let’s do a couple of things that could make such surprises constructive. Here are some helpful suggestions:
- Keep Jesus in the middle of your thoughts and feelings when shocking things happen. It helps me when I remember that nothing surprises Jesus.
- In the middle of anything that’s shocking, be sure to talk with Jesus, letting Him know of your surprise, feelings, uncertainty, etc.
- Decide to trust that Jesus can make seemingly bad or difficult things into fertilizer and something beneficial and/or beautiful
As you finish reading this blog, I pray that you keep your focus on Jesus regardless of whatever may be surprising to you. And I pray that Jesus’ peace will guard your heart in mind, so that fear, worry, panic and stress don’t hijack your soul. Remember, nothing catches Jesus by surprise.