Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. -Hebrews 11:1, NKJV
We had a snowstorm this past weekend in DC, which resulted in power outages. Without heat and electricity, while dealing with the hazards of snow and ice, we had to get creative. Depending on income and resources, some lit candles, some plugged up generators, some went to hotels, and some bundled up with extra layers.
One population would have appreciated any of these options. Our unhoused neighbors don’t always have the luxury of sheltering indoors during inclement weather, including winter storms. If they are not one of the people fortunate enough to get a bed in a crowded shelter, they are out there in the elements, braving whatever comes their way. For them, life has been a series of unexpected events that have propelled them into homelessness. Whether because they are dealing with the effects of serving in wars, whether they are dealing with the effects of addiction, whether they are dealing with the effects of a string of bad luck, or whether they are dealing with the effects of a series of bad choices, they are God’s children dealing with the unexpected.
In thinking about the beginning of Black History Month, another group of people comes to mind. This group had a series of unexpected events. They were the enslaved Africans who were snatched from their homeland to build this nation brick by brick, crop by crop, task by task. Those who arrived in chains on slave ships had no choice. They never expected to be kidnapped and taken to the other side of the ocean to be free labor for a budding new nation. They never imagined that life would have turned out the way it did. Yet, these enslaved bodies turned the tragedy of the unexpected into survival tactics for generations to come. Those with Mother Africa running through our veins are here because a group of people took the unexpected and turned it into a vision for a better future for their descendants. They dreamed the dreams that we live today, even though these dreams are still imperfect and incomplete. They looked past the unexpected and expected things to get better.
All of us have something unexpected happen to us at least once in life. Sometimes it is good, and sometimes it is not so good. We can’t control the unexpected, but we can deal with the unexpected by looking to the one who is in control. God is never thrown off guard when the unexpected happens. God is never taken aback or left stunned because something out of the ordinary happens. God specializes in helping us through the unexpected. We simply need to trust in God. What it all boils down to is faith. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
When unwanted unexpected things come our way, we must use our faith to trust in outcomes not yet seen. We must change our vision from what is in front of us to what is beyond us. As we learn to have faith in God, we not only will be able to deal with the unexpected, but we will come to expect the unexpected while knowing full well that God always has the last say.