Non Mirum est Deum: God is not Surprised [Devotion]

Last Wednesday night as I was teaching youth group I started one of the sections of our study with a phrase that would probably put a look of confusion on the faces of many Christians. I said, “God doesn’t see the future.” I let it sink in for a moment (the youth I teach are smart so many of them knew where I was going) “He commands it,” I finished.

I feel as though most Christians would agree with that statement but unfortunately I don’t think many of us practically realize what it means. It’s because we as humans are trapped in time. We are stuck in a linear progression of events in which that which has happened is done, that which is to come (despite our best laid plans) is totally unknown, and that which is happening now is an irrevocable progression on wards to what’s next. In plain words we can really only see and interact with whatever is right in front of us. God, however, is outside of time. He is the beginning and the end simultaneously. When God promised Eve that He would send someone through her offspring to defeat the serpent (Genesis 3:15) God wasn’t making a vague prediction, He was making a promise that would be fulfilled in a future that He presently had complete control over! Nothing could derail that plan because unlike us God has complete knowledge and control of the future! I know it’s still hard to wrap our finite heads around but it’s true.

Through years of highs and lows, military moves, deployments, crazy shows, and crazier dreams my family has developed a motto, “God is not surprised.” In a way it’s the closest I can come to summarizing a practical application of the difficult concept expressed above. It’s the faith that God does everything for a reason He cannot be caught off guard. I think one of the best examples is the birth, and the circumstances surrounding it, of our Savior.

If we really stopped to think about it how many of us would send Jesus the way the Father did? In a way it might seem as though the earthly circumstances of Jesus’ life were some sort of cosmic oversight. Think about it. Jesus, only begotten Son of God, wasn’t born as the emperor of Rome, wasn’t born as the son of a high priest, not even as the son of a noble! Jesus, instead, was born to a peasant mother (probably in her teens) and a hardworking father from a backwater town in a subjugated nation. When He was actually born there was no room for the king of the universe even in a second rate inn of a small town like Bethlehem. Rather than his birth being attended by nobles and religious leaders it was attended and proclaimed by men who’s testimony wouldn’t even be accepted in court (shepherds). Hindsight is twenty twenty, they say, so we read the story and take it for granted knowing what God would do. But if we just looked at the hard life that Jesus would lead on earth it would almost seem as though His Father had forgotten to make reservations. But God wasn’t surprised. He wasn’t surprised that the young woman who found favor in His sight would be a peasant or that the man that would raise the Son of God would be the first century equivalent of a construction worker. God was not surprised that His people would be in bondage to the Romans under a king who had no right to the throne. God wasn’t surprised that there was no room in the inn, that His Son would spend His first night on earth in a feed trough, or that He would be proclaimed through the countryside by some of the lowest of the low. It wasn’t even that circumstances could not derail the plans of God but that God had set those specific circumstances up at the beginning of time as part of His all powerful plan.

That is what we mean. We don’t say God is not surprised because He can see ahead to what’s down the road. We say God is not surprised because He drew the map, paved the road, and set up every stop along the way. God does not see the future He commands it.

So as we live our lives it is important to remember that God is not surprised by your circumstances. He has ordained them that you may become who He has made you to be (Proverbs 16:4)! He works all thing together for the Good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

I’ll leave you with this scripture, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

As Paul here describes we can face any circumstance knowing that God is working His perfect will through it. He is not reacting to things beyond His control but controlling all things to the Glory of His Name and the good of those who are in Him!