Every once in a while, something unexpected shows up. It may be a nice surprise that lightens a burden, like receiving a kind note or getting a phone call from a friend. It may be a sudden light that breaks the darkness we’re experiencing or a melody that lifts our spirits. It may be a little beauty in the middle of an ugly place. It may be a touch of color in a patch of gray.
That’s what struck me about the photo at the beginning of this post. The creative photographer, my friend Steven Nawojczyk, must have noticed something bright and beautiful in the middle of a bramble of deep green foliage. It was unexpected — the brilliant, white flowers that bloomed there. No one planted them in that thick brush. They just appeared. Unexpected!
But we know all too well that an unexpected event is not always a good one. The surprises that break into our lives sometimes harm and hurt. My family experienced it this week: a nasty fall on Sunday that resulted in my very sprained, swollen and bruised knee; my cousin falling a few days later and injuring both legs; my son dealing with serious illness; my husband Fred spending all of last night in the ER.
Unexpected! And not-so-good unexpected!
So sometimes the thought of not-so-good unexpected can create fear in us. Of course, we know that our finest plans sometimes fall through. Our projects implode. Our dreams meet the toughest resistance.
Doesn’t it seem as if our “plans” are lightning rods for the unexpected? When our plans crumble underneath us, we sometimes question the very faith that has always, always sustained us.
Now there is no Biblical text for every life occasion, and picking out a text to prove a point or to make us feel better is not the best way to approach the Bible. And yet, our sacred Scripture does speak to the unexpected happenings of life. This time, it’s the wise prophet Jeremiah who offers the word of hope.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
— Jeremiah 29:11 New International Version
A hope and a future! What more do we need? For me, white flowers unexpectedly blooming in the bushes and brambles will just about do it.
Thanks be to God.