We are told to expect the unexpected – but do any of us really do that? In fact, it’s a pretty stupid concept. The mere fact that something is unexpected suggests we are not expecting it to happen.
Few of us expect the third largest city in an advanced nation like Australia to be overwhelmed by floodwaters and that men, women and children will perish in a flood. We don’t really expect an airport to be closed in a rich country like Britain because of a bit of snow. No one expects when they get married that it might end in divorce. Thankfully we don’t normally expect that three weeks after you are feeling a bit unwell, the doctor comes back with a diagnosis of cancer. It’s not our expectation that a healthy young married couple in love just can’t conceive a child. We know there is a risk but we don’t really think a car accident can leave us with months of recuperation. Everyone expects his or her plane to land safely. In spite of the GFC, most of us do not imagine that our bank will fail. We don’t envisage waking up one morning to angry cameramen camped outside our door as a result of some scandal.
We don’t expect these things to happen, but then in another way we do expect them. We know that unusual, disappointing and downright tragic things happen all the time, at least to some people in some countries. We read about them and we know people they happen to. We stop occasionally, secretly fearing something might happen to us, but then we put our head down, get busy and get on with life.
Actually, I don’t think we can expect the unexpected, but I do think we can be a little better prepared. We can buy insurance. We can give up our Western arrogance that assumes our technology will always save us. We can exercise a little more humility, knowing that our real god delusion is thinking that we are in control. We can recognise that community is so essential to us in tough times and will deliver the sort of support that our personal wealth cannot provide. We can reconsider our obsession with material things, knowing that we cannot save them from all sorts of disasters and they will certainly not save us from much at all. We can remember that previous generations believed in putting things aside for a rainy day, because they actually believed one day it would rain.
Most of all we should go back and ask the ultimate questions: Why am I here? What is my purpose? Is there a God? Is there a Heaven and is there a hope?
Knowing God will not stop the unexpected or insulate us from suffering.
Knowing God’s wisdom can bring us strength.
Knowing God’s power should give us hope.
Knowing God’s counsel will give us wisdom.
Knowing God’s understanding does give us peace.
“To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are his." (Job 12: 13)