A few weeks ago a group of teenage boys went through our neighborhood, opened people’s mailboxes and ransacked their mail.
Apparently, they had extra fun with our mail. When Chris searched the neighborhood for each piece of our mail we soon realized this was more than a stupid prank. An opened envelope and a missing check made it obvious their intent was to steal.
We could tell by the envelope and postage exactly what had been stolen: A check from my dad, written to me, a reimbursement for $200.00.
I called my dad and told him what happened. He said he would call the bank and look into canceling the check. Neither of us had any expectation, whatsoever, to see that check again.
A few days later I received a call from my dad’s bank. The conversation between the teller and me went something like this:
“Hi, is Wendell there?”
“No but I’m his daughter, may I help you?”
“Are you Jennifer Allen?”
“Have you recently lost a check?”
“No, but I did have one stolen.”
“Well, I’m happy to tell you we have your check at the bank. An older gentleman found it at the mall and returned it to us this morning.”
By this point in the conversation I stood with the phone in my hand, dumbfounded by what I was hearing. The check had been found? At the mall? And returned to the bank?
Our conversation continued. “Would it be okay for me to come get it,” I asked.
“Absolutely,” she said. “Just bring your ID.”
I hung up the phone and called my mom to tell her what had happened. As it turns out my dad had not cancelled the check. I could still pick up the check and have it cashed or deposited. Together my mom and I marveled at the turn of events. “Only God,” we said.
Later that day I drove home from the bank with $200.00 tucked into my purse, still amazed by what God had done to work on my behalf. I wasn’t just amazed, I was surprised.
I was surprised by His goodness for me.
All in all, this matter over the check wasn’t a huge deal. Was it frustrating? Yes. Did it make me feel violated? Of course. But it wasn’t the end of the world.
But what about the big things? The huge deals? Do I find myself feeling just as surprised by God’s goodness when He comes through in the big as well as the small? To be honest, my answer is, “Yes.” What does this say about my faith, about my trust, about my expectation of what God can, will, and longs to do?
What does this say about my heart and the way I respond to life’s disappointments?
In the Foreword to the book Sons and Daughters, by Brady Boyd, John Eldredge writes,
“Pushing a bit deeper into the truth of it, my basic reaction to disappointment was this: I knew it. A flat tire, a bounced check, a vacation we couldn’t take after all—I met every disappointment with a posture in my soul that essentially said, I knew it. If I don’t make it happen, it isn’t going to happen. I can’t say that I was expecting blessing; I expected hassles, frustration, distress.”
Eldredge goes on to explain that it wasn’t until he began to truly see himself as a son of God that he began to expect God’s love and blessing as a theme in his life.
So what do you expect?
How subtle, how easy it is to approach life with all its ups and downs, with all its victories and disappointments with a cynical heart. With a heart that says, “I knew it. I knew this would happen.”
But this is not what God has for us, is it? We are sons and daughters of God. We are His children. And He loves us. Whatever He plans, purposes, and desires for us, His goodness and our good are at the heart of it.
We can trust this. We must trust this. Otherwise we’ll never trust Him. I mean really, deeply trust Him.
The next time disappointment comes take a moment and notice the way your heart responds. Is this what you expected? Did you know this would happen?
Or how about the times when God clearly comes through? Are you surprised by His goodness?
In both circumstances beware the cynical heart and remember whose you are. You are a son or daughter of God! Expect His goodness, expect His love.
He is for you…Let your surprise be found in all the ways He shows it.