I’m not sure if we would say this but it seems like we often translate faith in God as the expectation that He will come through for us exactly how we desire and ask Him to. We read stories like Abraham and Isaac, Daniel in the lion’s den, or the 3 boys and the fiery furnace and relate faith to the outcome of God coming through in a significant way exactly how we would desire and expect Him to. But we tend to gloss over the fact that faith began and ended with confidence that no matter what happens this is how I choose to live. This is seen clearly in the “even if” statement found in Daniel 3:18 “But even if He does not… we will not serve your gods”. Proverbs 3:5 says trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. When we pray, are we casting our understanding onto God and telling Him how He should deal with the situation? Or are we seeking to understand His will and declaring that no matter how He intervenes we will honor and glorify Him with the outcome. Get rid of your expectations; they lead us away from Gospel-centered faith and away from God-honoring faith. Instead open your heart to new, Holy Spirit inspired understanding, and be ready in all circumstances, with praise on your lips, to honor God for His infinite wisdom and goodness.
Expectations. If I have learned anything from this season of COVID 19 it’s the power of and trap of expectations. We are in such great and terrible patterns of planning our lives out to the nth degree. We are told that if we start preparing in our early 20’s for when we’re 70 and retired that we’ll look back and pat our younger self on the back. Plans, plans, and more plans. Everything is planned. This creates unhealthy expectations around small insignificant things that are heightened to the point of breaking our heart when they don’t come to fruition and big important plans that, when interrupted, lead us to desperation! We are working towards getting back to normal, but is this is a lie too? Have we spent 3 months suffering from shattered expectations only to rebuild even more dramatic expectations? We have been tragically reminded that no one can predict the future. We don’t know what’s coming next and it may be wise to prepare for what we desire for next but it’s a fools errand to put your trust in those plans. God clearly says something different. Check out Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight. Let’s keep studying this idea over the next few weeks and look to developing a new, God-centered, normal.
In Philippians 3 Paul does his best to share how worthless the things of this world are in light of our salvation in Christ. His simple desire is to know Christ and to participate in His sufferings. This world offers so many worthless things that lull us away from finding security in the salvation offered to us by God through the death and resurrection of His son. We slowly lean into patterns that slowly deceive us and rob us of the joy only found in Christ. I have seen these patterns affect my own life to the extent that even my times of worship and communion can get wrapped up in worthless patterns that are drawing me away from God. This time of quarantine has opened my eyes to some of these patterns and I pray it’s done the same for you. Paul expresses in verses 13 and 14 that he forgets what is behind and strains for what’s ahead. As we continue through this season and especially when this season ends we must dedicate ourselves to forgetting what is behind and straining for what’s ahead. We need to ask ourselves the hard questions of what patterns have we fallen into that are more for our own comfort and gain than the glory of God. What things do we need to consider a loss for the sake of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord?
Every day I hear a new message of anger and frustration. A new reminder of the hate that is alive and active during this challenging time. Oh how I long for messages of peace. I long to listen to the news in the morning and hear about people coming together in love and support to lift each other up, to value one another above themselves. 1 Peter 3:1-7 focuses on unity and humility between a husband and wife and then in verse 8 Peter declares “Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.” I strive to follow the first part of this chapter and take daily action steps to love and serve my wife but it’s not often that I take the action step in verse 8. I tell myself that not being part of the problem is enough. But right now, clearly, that is not true. And it never was. If I want to hear messages of love and togetherness then those messages need to start with my actions towards my brothers. Join me.