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Why are We Surprised?

I closed my eyes as the music swelled around me. The Lotu - the national church in Papua New Guinea - was packed that morning. The people were on their feet, singing praises to God. I loved to watch them, but that morning I closed my eyes as the presence of God was evident. Then I felt a sudden warmth on my face. It startled me for a moment, as the unexpected parting of a cloud can be a surprise. I thought someone must have opened a louvered window high on the wall, allowing the bright tropical sun to beam down on us. It wasn't until I opened my eyes at the end of the song that I realized there were no windows, no louvers to open. There was no beam of sunlight pouring in. But I knew I had felt the touch of warmth on my face, the delight of the sun, the delight of the Son. The surprise of that morning stayed with me for a long time.

Recently I read about a little girl who was dying of cancer. The disease was in her bones and the doctor had told her parents their daughter would not live long. But one day her grandmother read her something from the Bible. The scripture amazed the girl so much she memorized the words and took them to heart. She said she knew, from that moment on, that she would be okay. The words that convinced her read: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths... It will be health to your flesh and strength to your bones" (Proverbs 3:5-8). The doctor was amazed when the cancer went into remission. The girl's reply, when they told her, amazed him even more. She said, "Am I supposed to be surprised?"

When God intervenes, when He reveals His love, when He answers prayer, why are we surprised? Shouldn't we be like that little girl, confident that He does hear, that He will answer? We should know Him well enough that we aren't surprised when He delights us. It's part of His character, His very being. The Apostle John says it well ? "If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God and God in him" (1John 4:15,16).

We can have that same confidence that little girl had, even when our prayers aren't answered the way we think they should be. When the disease isn't cured or the bills aren't paid or the desires of our hearts seem to be only futile dreams. Even then, we can have the delight of knowing God. We can know His character is true and unchanging. Then, when we are suddenly confronted with the reality of His love, it won't come as such a surprise.

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