by Dr. Beth Backes
When is the last time you woke up and thought, “Life has turned out exactly how I expected?” Yeah, me neither. Let’s be honest, dealing with the unexpected is tough. Gratefully, the Scriptures are full of real life women who faced unexpected situations. Let’s check out some sheroes of the faith as they navigate the uncharted territory of life’s unexpected moments.
Sometimes we encounter disruptions that are man-made and other times they are orchestrated by God. It’s important that we learn to distinguish between the two.
Remember Mary? She was the mother of Jesus who was minding her own business when the unexpected happened. Imagine being a teenager with hopes and dreams, only to have an angelic visit interrupt your engagement plans with a plot twist that involved an unplanned pregnancy. If I were in Mary’s sandals, I may have told God, “thanks, but that really isn’t in line with my life goals.” But Mary responds differently. She admits her fear. Then she tells God’s messenger, “May your word to me be fulfilled” (Luke 1:38). The Bible gives us a glimpse into the fear Mary experienced in that moment. But she doesn’t stay there. She quickly shifted into a posture of submitting to God’s ultimate plan for her life.
When you experience a life-changing event that seems to be a divine conspiracy, it’s okay to keep it real and admit it’s scary. Let us, like Mary, be women who make the courageous decision to say “yes” to divine disruption in our lives.
Managing expectations is a real struggle. We are disappointed when our expectations are not met. It happens in relationships. It happens when we look in the mirror. It happens when we look at our current reality. So where should we set the bar in our expectations with God?
I’m convinced most of us aim low to avoid disappointment.
In the Old Testament, Elisha encounters a desperate woman. She was completely out of money after her husband died and his creditors were threatening to take her children. Elisha identifies her only resource as a small jar of oil. Then he gives her these unexpected instructions, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few” (2 Kings 4:3). He was helping her prepare for a miracle and insisted she go big or go home. “Don’t ask for just a few” was code for “dare to believe God for more.” The rest of the story tells us that God provided oil to fill every jar she collected. We don’t know how many jars she gathered. But we do know if she collected 50 jars, they were all filled. If she collected 100 jars, they were filled. God often meets us at the level of our expectation.
When is the last time you prayed a bold prayer for God to meet your needs in a big way? Identify one area in your life where God is whispering for you to believe for more. Give yourself permission to embrace God-sized expectations. Gather big dreams and expect God to fill them. Consider yourself dared.
Sometimes the unexpected things we encounter are not from God. The global pandemic, political unrest, and racial tensions are all evidence that we live in a broken world.
Esther was a Jewish orphan being raised by her uncle. As if life wasn’t hard enough, she is unexpectedly taken to be a part of the King’s harem. Some read the story of Esther like a fairy-tale of a young woman rising from rags to riches. In reality, it was more like the movie Taken. “Esther was also taken to the king’s palace and entrusted to Heggai, who had charge of the harem” (Esther 2:8). Today we call that sex-trafficking.
When our dreams are dashed and life dishes out heavy portions of disappointment, how can we trust God with our future? We all have Esther-like moments in our lives when nothing seems to be going our way. But when we read through to the end of the story, we discover how God empowered Esther to save the Jewish people from genocide. God can redeem even the worst case scenarios in our lives. He did it for Esther and He will do it for you.
The life of faith requires us to expect the unexpected. Sometimes there will be divine disruptions, God-sized miracles, and unexpected disappointments. In every situation, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Hebrews 6: 19). No matter what unexpected events we face, we can expect Jesus to face it with us.
Dr. Beth Backes is an ordained minister, church planter, and speaker. She leads the Network of Women Ministers in the Northwest and has a desire to see women pursue their God-given dreams. Beth lives in the Seattle area with her husband where they have raised two adult children.