Most of us can remember a time in our lives when someone or perhaps a group of people went out of their way to plan a “surprise” for us. 

Perhaps it was a special birthday or anniversary, an unexpected Christmas gift or an achievement award.  These are times that warmed our hearts and made us feel very loved or honored.

Not all of life’s surprises, however, fall into this category.  Some surprises take us down a very unexpected path — a detour that causes us to scratch our head and say,  “I didn’t see this coming!”

These “surprises” also are part of the story of our lives and reveal a lot about our character and our faith.

A few weeks ago, I found myself a victim of such a “surprise.” 

It was a detour I had not expected. One minute, I was fine; the next, I was lying unconscious in a pool of blood in our hallway.

I started coming around at Scott & White Hospital in Temple and realized I was going to be in a lot of pain for weeks to come.  My life was brought to a screeching halt. 

At this point, I began talking to God. “What is this? What happened?  Where are you? Why am I flat on my back?”      

Remember this:  God is NOT surprised at where we are in our life’s story. My situation didn’t take Him by surprise. God didn’t get up this morning and say, “I wonder where Joe is today.”  Or, “I wonder what trouble Suzie has gotten into?”

God knows each of us and He knows our plans, but He also knows about the changes in our plans, before they happen.  You see, there is no “wondering” with God.   

When Job was in his worst valley, he found himself alone, isolated from the presence of God. In Chapter 23 he pleads his case, (I paraphrase) “I need to come into the presence of God! ... I must come to His seat and plead my case. ... I know He would strengthen me.”

Job makes an honest and painful observation: “I go forward, but He (God) is not there (to be seen or felt), and backward, but I cannot perceive Him.”

Sounds pretty discouraging, doesn’t it?

But in verse 10, he looks past the obvious and says, “But he knows the way I take! (In other words, I may not know where He is at this moment, but He knows  where I am!) 

The fact that God knows where we are is more important than our knowing where He is. Just a comment on my recent crisis: I cried to the Lord during those difficult and painful days, and He became my strength. 

One night I heard in my heart these words: “You are in my permissive will.” As I pondered that, I gained new found strength and assurance. He has permitted me to be in this place — there is a plan.  I am on assignment.” 

I started to devote every available moment to not only recovering, but to being productive in the land of my affliction.

Great is His faithfulness indeed, and His mercies are new every morning! 

The Rev. JOHN ABBEY is pastor of Bethel Church in Killeen.

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