Surviving Surprises

Surprises can shock us with joy or grief depending on the circumstances. Unexpected happenings can have either a fun or devastating effect on us, and we have to manage both. Thankfully, for the Christian, God provides the resources needed to not only survive the difficult surprises, but to overcome the shock of them. While impact from good surprises usually pass quickly, sometimes the unwanted ones don’t. In such times we need the LORD to overlay His grace upon our lives in such a way that we realise His protection.

Reading God’s Word with prayer has the ability to calm us, to center our thinking, and to show us different ways of viewing our circumstances from God’s perspective. Scripture exposes us to the heart of God and shows His constant presence in our lives. While prayer, both private and with fellow believers, is a critical expression of our faith response to God. It speaks out what the heart is feeling, and what the mind is thinking. Prayer permits us to explain to the Lord our feelings of conflict, our confusion, our pain, and our need of God. May your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant. Let your compassion come to me that I may live… (Psalm 119:76-77).

God’s Word, read prayerfully, allows for self-examination without abuse from outside. It enables our hearts to be fueled with God’s beauty in the midst of our pain. Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law (Psalm 119:18). Scripture shines light into our darkness which helps align our hearts with God. Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart (Psalm 119:34). God’s Word enables us to understand the necessity for obedience  and selflessness through times of difficulty. Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain! (Psalm 119:36).

Taking in God’s word prayerfully, enables us to recognise that God is able to turn away the reproach (shame) that I dread, for your rules are good (Psalm 119:39). While the enemy strives to attack our hearts with shame, regret, and fear, God speaks certainty and acceptance to us even when we are struggling with failures. My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life. The arrogant mock me unmercifully, but I do not turn from your law. I remember, LORD, our ancient laws, and I find comfort in them (Psalm 119:50-52).

Worship during difficulties is not blind to the painful realities of life. Rather, worship looks above our distress and focuses on the unchanging and holy character of the Lord and His Word. Your decrees are the theme of my song wherever I lodge (Psalm 119:54). Especially when recovering from unpleasant surprises, our souls need to be assured through praising God, through trusting thanks for all things, and through following Him when others are saying and doing the opposite.

Worship heightens our motivation for obedience and inspires Christlike living. Worship shifts our affections towards God while moving our attention to pain away from self. Especially when experiencing unpleasant surprises, we need to consciously infuse joy from worship into our pain. This allows sorrow to be mellowed with the softness of assurance.

Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts… (Psalm 95:6-8).

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