What to Do When God Isn’t Who You Expect

Margaret —  December 9, 2013 — 11 Comments

What to Do When God Isn’t What You Expect

Have you ever ordered something off a menu based on the photo?

It looks yummy, so it must be delicious!

When the plate comes out, you quickly realize the photo wasn’t real to size or the portion is less than stellar.

Sometimes our expectations are radically different than the reality.

I have a feeling the Israelites felt a similar confusion when it came to the promised Messiah.

You see, Israel waited for the Messiah for centuries.Someone to come and lead Israel to their rightful place in the world.

Messiah means “anointed one” in Hebrew. You may be surprised to know that the term “messiah” wasn’t reserved only for Jesus in Scripture.

A messiah was someone or something that was anointed with oil. Solomon, various priests and prophets, Cyrus the Great, and even the Jewish Temple are referred to as messiah in Scripture.

But Scripture also spoke of a promised Messiah, a future leader who would reign once and for all.

Israelites associated the Messiah with wealth and power. Surely the future Messiah would reign from a throne and lead military conquests.

But instead, the Messiah was born in the basement of a rundown Bethlehem motel.

Instead of wielding a sword or establishing his throne, the Messiah (or Christ, in Greek), flipped, twisted, and jumbled their expectations. He spoke of humility, compassion, love, and putting others first. Not only did he teach this, he lived it. [Tweet this] Ultimately sacrificing himself for you and me on a cross—a humiliating death for anyone, let alone the King of kings.

Through the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Christ, God continues to remind us that no matter how developed our theology is, it cannot and will not contain him. 

What to Do When God Isn’t What You Expect

Much like the Israelites, we may have our own expectations of how the Messiah should work, move, or act in our lives. We give suggestions, deadlines, and demands to the Creator of the universe, and sit in shock when God doesn’t protect, provide, or produce in the ways we predict.

Our God is not meant to be fully known or understood. Yet, we’re invited to rest knowing the world sits firmly in the palms of God. That no matter our situation, circumstance, or adversity, God has everything under control. [Tweet this] Choose to trust him today and #LIVEWONDERSTRUCK by the shift of perspective you’ll have.

How is God flipping, twisting, and jumbling your expectations of him this Advent season?


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*Original Photo Source

11 responses to What to Do When God Isn’t Who You Expect

  1. Sigh, this is my constant struggle Margaret. A question for your question…how exactly do we anticipate something without forming an expectation? THIS is the cause of the flips, twists and jumbles that leave me feeling dumbstruck vs Wonderstruck at times. I’ve been struggling with this emotional roller coaster for several years now, what am I doing wrong?? I’d like Him to reveal it because I’m weary.

    THEN the flip side is being being completely Wonderstruck when He uses us in the midst of this! Ministering to elderly neighbors and their 30 something son who has severe depression and alcoholism…we barely have enough energy to minister to each other but SOME HOW Tom is well enough for 3 hours that we can get the son to church yesterday. Then he’s down for the count, exhausted, in pain and having vertigo.

    I’m rambling my thoughts again, completely Wonderstruck and dumbstruck at the same time…the exhaustion a makes me question if I’m cut out to serve this kind of God. Hugs!

    • Great question, Tara. And you’re so not alone in it.

      I think you hit it spot on– that even when we get it wrong (which is often), God can use those moments to leave us WONDERSTRUCK. God uses our shattered expectations to remind us of our finite minds– that he is always BIGGER and GREATER and GRANDER and more WONDERFUL than we could ever imagine!

      And the fact that he chooses to use us to reveal his kingdom and love in greater measure is beyond my understanding!

  2. This is something I dwell on often. How divergent my view of how things should work and God’s view are. So often I find myself saying I follow you God, but let me show you how I’m going to do it! His plan is perfect, but it rarely is what we predict. Thank you for the reminder of this.

    • “His plan is perfect, but it rarely is what we predict.”

      You can say that again! Praying that we can continue to lean into Him and trust even as we wait. Thanks, Ashley!

  3. Your post reminds me–and hopefully others too–that I have often made God in my image to serve my purposes and for my perceived needs. Thank you for this reminder to remember that our awesome and mysterious God cannot be contained or completely defined by our words and theology.

  4. Margaret, I love this! Someone once said – “Isn’t it cool that Jesus is like us?!” – it was an attempt to relate to Jesus. My thoughts were “NO!” if Jesus was like me we would all be in trouble! I love that he is not containable – packaged like so much in our lives these days.
    But you know – I also love that God delights in revealing himself to us – clearly, simply and consistently. He is not a god who likes to keep us “in the dark.”

    Appreciate ya!

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. Book Study – extra thought » Martha Street: Your Global Front Porch - December 11, 2013

    […] a lot today – but wanted you to pop over to Margret Feinberg’s site and read her post: When God Isn’t What You Expect.   If fits so well with our discussion of God is Able chapter […]

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