October 23, 2020

Why "This Doesn't Surprise God" is so Dissatisfying

Unless you've been living under a rock, you're aware that living has been hard for much of 2020.  We've got a pandemic, economic and social effects of that pandemic, an intense election season, and each of us has our own personal difficulties that are part and parcel of this life.  As a result, we're all searching for meaning and drive to keep going.  Some days are just fine, others not so much.  From the beginning, I have heard said and prayed, "None of this is a surprise to God," spoken as a word of faith in prayer or encouragement to the hearer - a reminder that everything seems out of control, but it's not.

Every time I hear this phrase, I cringe.

Not because it's untrue or that the spirit behind it is wrong, of course - if you believe God is sovereign, the statement is accurate - but because it isn't comforting.

Knowledge that a king, sitting on his throne, untouched by a hardship besetting his people, who knows their pain and knew it was going to happen, does little to uplift the downtrodden.  He may be powerful and he may have seen it coming, but the real question of the subjects' hearts is, "Does he care?"  If he does not, he's under no compulsion to move from his throne.  However, if he does care, then he may just intervene to alleviate their suffering. 

As uncertainty continues to have the day, a few specific verses keep coming to mind that encourage me and fuel hope in my spirit.  One of them I shared with a friend this week as we strolled a pumpkin patch and our kids chose, abandoned, rechose, abandoned, rechose and so on until finding their perfect pumpkins.  The verse popped up again today in my morning devotional New Morning Mercies by Paul David Trip  (five stars, would recommend):

And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.  ~ Philippians 4:19

Reading Tripp's accompanying words reminded me of none of this is a surprise to God.  Whatever the trial in which we find ourselves, whether brought on by circumstances beyond our control or our own stupidity, God is not taken aback.  True.  But God never stops there! The Word reminds His people not only that He knows our needs and is powerful to meet them, but that He does indeed care.

The Christian builds his or her life on the Good News that while we were still sinners, alienated from the holy One who made us by our sin, He entered in and offered reconciliation and restoration through His Son, Jesus.  He defeated death so that we could have life abundant enterally and right now.  The Good News communicates that though things were dark-dark, the Creator God is light-light and has a deep affection for His creation and especially for those who, according to the Bible, bear His image in the world.  So God's children fall back every time into the arms of a loving Father who is not surprised and truly does want to meet our every need according to His riches in the glory of Christ Jesus.

So yes, Covid-19 did not take God by surprise.  But let's not speak that phrase without also reminding ourselves and others of how high, wide, deep, and long is the love of Christ.  The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end.  That's good news of great joy, and such a comfort.

These words of David (Psalm 62:11-12a) are another refrain that keep following me through my days:

Once God has spoken;
twice have I heard this:
that power belongs to God,
and that to you, O LORD, belongs steadfast love.

Remembering God's power and His love is the one-two punch out of helplessness and despair into real hope!

I'd love to hear what scriptures God has been using to remind you of His power and His love in 2020.  Feel free to share.


April 22, 2020

COVID-19 Meditations & an Eastertide Walk through I Peter

Hey all!

I haven't been active here in a while and, though I'm not going to start writing blog posts, I did want to alert you of two things I having going on on social media right now.

One is posting a video meditation on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays for at least as long as this social distancing lasts.  I wanted to do this for my church family, but thought I'd share more broadly.  Certainly we can all use some encouragement.  You can find me on Instagram @heather.ashe and on Facebook as Heather Ashe or on my Life in the Valley Facebook page.

In addition, I thought it would be encouraging to walk through a book of the Bible during Eastertide, which in the church calendar is the period between Easter and Pentecost.  I Peter seemed like a good option because it's written to the scattered people of God and we are certainly all feeling scattered right now.  Check out the links above to follow along with that, too!

I pray this finds you well and aware that you are secure in the palm of God's hand.  If not, please join in these meditations and studies - as we seek God we will find Him, and discover more of His faithfulness.

For Christ and His Church,
Heather 💛