The very first gratitude list I ever made included a Honeycrisp apple, a ginger peach water, and a Beatles song. It was a beautiful sunny day and I had a doctor’s appointment mid-morning to review test results. To say I was anxious about this appointment would be a vast understatement. The knot of uneasiness in my stomach told me to expect the unexpected.
I walked in Uneasy and walked out in the Unexpected.
What I thought, what I expected, was to leave that appointment with a referral to an infertility doctor and stop this dance we were doing. We moved right for more tests and twirled left to more theories and I was fed up with tiny, slow steps towards what I knew was the inevitable, IVF. I wanted a leap into IVF and find our victory over infertility.
But the truth is, we don’t get to move from uneasiness to victory in one step or even one leap. We have to go through days of Unexpected and the crushing grief of Unknowns before we ever reach the Unimaginable victory.
The Unexpected Unexpected…
I can’t imagine what the people around Jesus were thinking as they watched the events of Friday unfold. Arrested in the still dark of the morning, a trial with zero guilt and full condemnation, friends running in fear, enemies dancing in victory, officials and witnesses exacting cruel and unbelievable torture.
The shock they must have felt. Standing there, watching, and completely helpless. They couldn’t save Him, they couldn’t comfort Him, couldn’t pray this away.
I wonder what events of their life with Jesus flashed through their minds. Did they picture the baskets of fish and bread left over from feeding the 5,000? Did they wonder if the Woman at the Well had heard? Remember His power in calming the storm from the boat? Could they picture the resurrection of Lazarus walking out of his tomb after Jesus called his name?
Just like the disciples and the women who loved Jesus watching the crucifixion on that Friday, we’ve all experienced that same feeling of being completely helpless in our own Unexpected.
Our child diagnosed with cancer. Parents announce their divorce. A friend dies in a car wreck. Our house burns to the ground. Bankruptcy, infertility, adultery, addiction, heart attack, flood. Thousands of ways the brokenness of this world enters our lives. And most of those, we never expect.
One day, we are having dinner with a beloved friend and the next, we are watching him die. Our hearts and minds and soul spinning endlessly in the Unexpected.
And yet, in those moments, as we stand freshly bruised and beaten by the Unexpected of this world, those are the times the people around us see Jesus in us.
The Expected in the Unexpected…
“And when the centurion, who stood in front of Jesus, saw how He died, he said, ‘Surely this was the Son of God!'” ~Mark 15:39 (NIV)
As Jesus breathed His last, just before He willingly gave up His spirit, and God had to turn His back on His only son, that Roman guard recognized Jesus as the Son of God. And I bet we’ll see him in heaven one day.
When we face the Unexpected in all it’s shock and awe, people see us. They see how we respond, they see how we live, how we carry on, how we mourn and rejoice and comfort one another.
Our lives are filled with Friday’s. Overflowing with days when the Unexpected feels like it will be the end of us. As if the grief will stop our heart from beating one more time when we will face something we cannot fix or help or avoid. God’s word tells us to expect that.
Trouble is to be expected.
But it is in our Unexpected days when Jesus shines brighter, when we can truly say His grace is sufficient, where we rejoice that He is made strong in our weakness and for His glory, we will be joyful in that suffering.
We can Expect in the Unexpected Jesus will be glorified.
The Grateful Glory in the Unexpected…
We have all seen people in our lives who have lived their Unexpected well. Watched loved ones and friends and co-workers who have faced the Unexpected with grace and peace and joy and patience.
Now, thanks to the internet, we are able to stand as witnesses to hundreds of people through videos and social media and blogs. We see their joy, read about their decision to rest in God’s goodness, grieve with them, pray for them, and celebrate in each victory with them.
We are the Roman Centurion watching their Unexpected unfold. And we see Jesus through them.
But how do we live our own Unexpected with that same grace, peace, joy, and patience? How can the people around us see Jesus in us?
How do we glorify Jesus in our Unexpected?
And we start with being grateful for Something.
It doesn’t have to be fancy or holy or even about that very moment. You can be grateful for apples and water and music. Be grateful for medicine and nurses and insurance. Grateful for the baked spaghetti your neighbor brought over or the podcast you could swear was speaking directly to you or the accident-free commute home from work.
The way we glorify Jesus in our trials and sufferings and even in our victories is by giving Him our gratitude. In being grateful for the Somethings in our Unexpected, Jesus is honored and glorified and the people around you won’t be able to miss seeing Jesus in you when you are grateful even in your Unexpected.
Jesus gratefully glorified in our Unexpected.
Download your A Grateful Easter Study Guide and sit down this week with Jesus. Talk with Him about the Unexpected in your life and how you can find Something to be grateful for through it all. Ask Him to help others see His glory through you.