You deceived me, Lord, and I was deceived; you overpowered me and prevailed (Jeremiah 20:7)
Over the decades of working as a coach and a trainer, I have been able to tell athletes that if they did certain things, they could expect certain results. For example, for those who had the goal of getting stronger, participating in a consistent weight training program would produce the desired result. For the goal of increasing speed, a systematic running and sprinting program would be the way to go. However, inasmuch as this principle is also at work for the Christian who desires a closer walk with Jesus, and who consistently engages in the spiritual disciplines of Bible study, prayer, corporate worship, service, giving, and so on, that Christian is likely to find that God often gives us something totally unexpected . . . perhaps even unwanted!
Today’s verse is an example of the unexpected. The prophet Jeremiah did not foresee the trials he would endure when God called him into his prophetic ministry; Jeremiah’s preaching ministry did not return the results he had expected. Jeremiah was faithful to preach the Word of God, but his reward was beatings and prison. While you and I may never see the inside of a dungeon, we often find ourselves in the same situation as Jeremiah: experiencing the exact opposite of what we had expected God to do in our lives. Tragically, when we are confronted by the unexpected, a root of bitterness may grow within us, diminishing God’s glory in our eyes and robbing us of the good God intended for us.
Our God is in the business of delivering the unexpected. Because God sees the beginning from the end, He knows what is best and He orchestrates events to produce His perfect results—which are often completely unexpected! Like Jeremiah, we do certain things and expect certain results. Without realizing it, we put our God in a box. And once we do that, we begin serving the “god” we wanted, rather than the God who is.
Here are three things to remember if we are going to have any measure of peace and joy in this life:
- There is a God.
- It is not me.
- And I don’t get a vote!
Regardless of where this message finds you today, remember that God is in the business of delivering the unexpected. We all must keep these powerful words from our Lord before us: “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). The better we become at “being still,” the better we will become at receiving the unexpected—and the freedom, joy, and faithfulness it is designed to deliver.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!