If I’ve learned anything from 2020, it is to expect the unexpected. Who could have imagined a year like this?
On a personal note, my very healthy Dad died instantly of a massive heart attack without any warning or chance to say goodbye.
A global pandemic swept the nation, causing hundreds of thousands of deaths and leaving many more infected and suffering. Businesses were closed, travel was banned and intimate fellowship with closest family and friends became prohibited.
Social division erupted across the country pitting neighbors against one another and bringing violence and confusion into the national conversation.
And to top it all off, an election for the president of this great nation was so razor-close that weeks after we were still left with uncertainty and debate.
Now that the calendar has turned and 2021 is here, I want to throw back the curtains and start fresh. I want a re-do. I want to know what is coming. I want to at least feel like I have some kind of control over what will happen this year.
Are you grinning as I say that, just like I am right now?
From what I learned last year, it’s more likely that we have absolutely no idea what is ahead in the days and months to come. I don’t know about you, but that thought scares me to death!
To keep myself from panic and fear I have to go to the Bible, the only absolute we can rest upon.
In the story that is recorded of the birth of Jesus, there was much uncertainty. For 400 years, God’s chosen people heard nothing but silence regarding their redemption. They were left to rely upon the Holy Scriptures from years past and what had been spoken through the prophets. They expected a Savior and waited for rescue from the Almighty God.
Luke begins his Gospel with a message to the recipient: “most excellent Theophilus… that you might know the exact truth about the things you have been taught” (Luke 1:3-4).
He proceeded with the account of a priest named Zacharias who waited expectantly for the redemption of Israel, but learned in the process that Almighty God does not always deliver in ways that we might expect.
No, the God of Israel would use the unexpected to bring about His perfect plan. He chose to give Zacharias and his wife, beyond childbearing age, a son that would proclaim His plan and prepare the way, and He chose a virgin to bear His only son who would redeem not only the nation of Israel, but all of mankind.
When I consider how God uses the unexpected to fulfill His glorious plans, I am comforted. Even in my most creative, out-of-the-box thinking I am often left with uncertainty and doubt.
But when I trust that the infinite, all-knowing God of the universe has a plan for His people and that His ways are higher than my ways, I can rest. I have assurance that He is in control and that whatever happens, because I am His beloved child, I have a future and a hope.
Granted, it may not be what I had in mind, but His unexpected way is much better than anything I can expect or imagine.
Romans 11:33 states “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!”
Two-thousand years ago, I bet the nation of Israel never expected to find redemption in a newborn resting in an animal’s trough.
I’ll bet they did not expect a carpenter 30 years of age to redeem them from a sentence of death through his own death on a rugged cross. I’ll be they were not expecting an empty tomb three days later, but that’s exactly what they got!
As a matter of fact, that is precisely what we can ALL have — the unexpected, if we trust Him as our Lord and Savior. Because of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, every person can have salvation. For me, it’s the one and only absolute I know I can count on.
No matter what comes in this life, I have hope because I have been promised an eternal life with my Savior and with others who have trusted Him as theirs.
What are you expecting this year? May it be something unexpected; something beyond your wildest dreams!
Sherry Weller is Executive Director of New Life Clinic in Wilmington.
This weekly column is provided to the News Journal by members of the Wilmington Area Ministerial Association.