God is Not Surprised
I’m pretty certain everything that can be written has been written, and I have no desire to add to the noise. I simply hope to point you to Jesus and to trust in Him if you’ve fallen short of that goal.
As I sit in my living room with football on the television, dog sleeping on the big comfy chair, and seemingly everything in its place, my basement is a disaster. There are toys everywhere, the bin of dress-up clothes is strewn all over the floor, Hot Wheels cars line the walls, and little Shopkin landmines lay in wait for unsuspecting feet. When the kids play in the basement this is often the result. But I don’t march down there, see the mess, and exclaim, “Whoa, what happened?” I know exactly what happened; I’m not surprised, the kids were playing.
I think we view God in this way, especially when it comes to His hands-on involvement in our world. We think He is surprised by what He may stumble upon. We say that He is sovereign, but our attitudes say otherwise. We say that He’s in control, but we take matters into our own hands. We say that we trust His wisdom, but we question how He could let things get so far out of control. We picture Him comfortable and unaware of the mess that lurks beneath Him and think that at any minute He’ll march down the stairs (side stepping a Lego, of course) and say, “Whoa, what happened? How did My world get so messed up?”
Every illustration falls apart at some point, so don’t take this one too far. God is not surprised, but He also isn’t orchestrating chaos or allowing chaos (like I often do by shutting the basement door in order to ignore the mess) for our whimsical pleasure, He is actively at work for our good and His glory.
Even if we can’t see it. Even if we can’t understand it. God is working.
Even in the selection of the next President of the United States of America.
Let that settle in. For many of us, the events of the last year or so—and in increasing measure the past few months—have caught us completely off guard. “Hows” and “whys” dominate our minds. The contentious and divisive election cycle, and the candidates that are left standing, make no sense to us. Maybe they never will. But God, in His sovereignty, is still in charge (Romans 9). He always was. He’s the one who raises up leaders and brings them down (Daniel 2:21, Romans 13:1), and He holds them in His hand to accomplish His purposes (Isaiah 40:21–24).
Could that purpose possibly be to break our misplaced dependency on the idols of this world and draw us back to himself? What if God’s will for this election is for those who call themselves His followers, His children, His Bride, to trust Him more. Through it all, our hope should be in Jesus—not a human leader or a nation or a political platform or a set of policies—because He is the only one who keeps His promises and the only one who writes “policy.” When our hope is found in Jesus, whatever the outcome happens to be, we can rest heads on the “pillow of His sovereignty” (Charles Spurgeon).
Friends, God is not surprised by what is happening. He wasn’t surprised when Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden tree, He wasn’t surprised when Job lost everything, He wasn’t surprised when Joseph was sold into slavery, He wasn’t surprised when His people were held captive in Egypt for 400 years, He wasn’t surprised when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were sentenced to a fiery death, He wasn’t surprised when Goliath mocked the Israelite army, He wasn’t surprised when death had seemingly won at the cross. In fact, He was making a way. And He still makes a way, not as His plan B, but as His plan A. Through it all He was making a better way, a way that leads us into a deeper, more intimate relationship with Him, not just for this earthly life but for all eternity.
These things occur to bring glory to God and to show off His power. They happen in order to refine His people and advance the Gospel through their witness among the nations. They don’t just happen. God is actually leading us as a good Father who lovingly knows what we need (and even how we need it).
So…breathe deeply, because we have nothing to fear. God’s not caught off guard by the mess we see around us. And if the mess seems unbearable and overwhelming, realize it’s momentary and is “achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17,18).
Dave Nicodemus is the Communications & Creative Arts Pastor and has served at Grace Polaris for over nine years, seven and a half of those as the High School Pastor. Dave joined the Grace staff after serving at a church in eastern Pennsylvania. Prior to that, he studied youth and family ministry, minoring in art at Grace College (2001) and completing a masters degree from Grace Theological Seminary (2003). He’s the husband of Carly and father to Jack, Henry, Emilia, and Charlie.