Friday, March 30, 2012

Not The Way I Expected ~ A Lenten Reflection

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen" ~ Ephesians 3:20-21, NIV

Lent is a perfect time to reflect on our needs and our expectations.  That made seem like a strange statement, but let me pull apart what I mean for you.

Jesus entered a world in desperate need and blew apart every expectation that was laid upon Him.  He came to His chosen people at a time where they were politically oppressed and harassed.  He came to the poor, socially outcast and sick.

The expectations laid upon Jesus carried much pressure, but He never buckled to them.  There was the expectation that He would heal every person.  He did not.  Many expected Him to overthrow the Roman rule.  He did not.  The religious ruling class expected Him to align himself with them.  He did not.

The bottom line is that people questioned whether Jesus was truly the Messiah because He didn't at all meet any of the expectations they had built up in their minds of the One who would come to save them.  However, looking backward, we can see that His plan was better than any preconceived notions others had set up for Him.  Rather than a temporary rescue from Rome, He launched an eternal rescue from ourselves and the sin that imprisons us!  Rather than providing endless meals of bread and fish, He gave real, lasting food in His word.  Instead of a quick fix, He left us His Holy Spirit to fill us with all we need both now and in eternity.

I find reflection on Jesus' whole expectation-busting mission to be especially relevant this particular Lenten season.  Our son has recently undergone a frightening hospitalization.  Any time we go through a life-threatening crisis with him, we find that there are unspoken expectations.   It is only natural to assume family, friends and church leadership will be there for us at times like this.  Sadly, as with every crisis we endure, people disappoint.  We discover that we can't rely on others like we anticipated.

But to God be the glory!  We are never left orphans!  The Lord meets our needs.  It may not be in the way we expect, but we have more than we could ever ask or imagine.  When people from church didn't show up,  we hurt, but God shocked us with the love and attention of so many others in the Body of Christ.  We were showered with meals, notes and silly gifts!  When family let us down, He built us a new family that loves us unconditionally.  Giving kids rides from school or to youth group were small gestures of love provided by others.  I could almost write a book over the countless ways God has blown our expectations out of the water.

Lent is our opportunity to unite those disappointments with the ones that Jesus faced.  It draws us closer to Him and leaves us in awe of what He accomplished for us.  We are suddenly able to imprint on our minds and hearts the fact that God may take us through the heart of sorrow to provide a breathtaking outcome that we never would have considered before.

As we walk through life's difficulties, we must realize that God is not limited in the way He can meet our needs.  Do you face a financial trial?  Your need may not be met through that well-paying job or raise as you expect, but rather through an unanticipated rebate or sudden inheritance.  Is your marriage never what it should be?  Perhaps the support and friendship you would usually expect from a spouse will be met in other surprising ways.  Has a physical or emotional trial that your child faces continued without the resolution you had hoped for?  God may be doing something powerful in the unseen realm that will yield a surprisingly magnificent result that could not be obtained in any other way than through suffering.  The point is that there are no limits to what our omnipotent loving Creator can do.  And if we patiently endure in faith, we are sure to receive more that we could ever ask or imagine.

Pray:  Lord, you know I'm often skeptical.  I doubt Your care and grieve the way others disappoint me.  Help me to realize that humans will always fall short.  May all my expectations lay in Christ alone!

No comments:

Post a Comment