Pleasantly surprised (Prayer Devotional for the week of July 5, 2015)

It sure is nice when things work out the way we’d hoped they would, but sometimes we act surprised about things that we should have expected, all along. I can only speak for myself, but I think I act guarded and reserved in an attempt to keep from feeling disappointed if things don’t work out, after all. I imagine that others react similarly, whether consciously or not.

For example, when I study hard and do the best I can on a school assignment, I probably should expect to get a good grade. Yet, I always wonder what I might have forgotten to include … or if the professor won’t like my word choice or agree with my conclusions. So, I hope for the best and try to expect nothing. That way, if/when I receive an A, I can finally let myself feel confident that I really did do a good job.

I see that same tendency to second-guess myself as I read stories about the disciples in the New Testament. Time and time again, Jesus had to remind them to trust him and not doubt. Whether they were dealing with how to feed the masses (Matthew 14 & again in 15), survive a storm (Luke 8), or cope with Jesus’ death (Mark 16), they fell back into their old ways of trying to figure things out on their own instead of having faith in Christ. Several times in the Gospels, Jesus told his disciples flat-out that they had “little faith.”

It should not surprise us, then, that the disciples doubted the first-hand accounts of those who had seen the risen Christ. Luke 24 tells of several eyewitnesses who saw Jesus after his resurrection, and even though he had personally told the disciples before his death that he would rise again, they still doubted. When he finally appeared to them as a group, they thought he was a ghost (verse 37)!

One statement that I find really amazing in that chapter is verse 45. After going well beyond what should have been necessary to prove to the disciples that he had, indeed, returned from the grave, Jesus opened the disciples’ minds so that they could better understand the Scriptures. He equipped them to do the work that he was entrusting into their hands. Despite our doubt, our faithlessness, our incompetence, Christ calls us to continue his work. Do you trust that what he says is true?
(Originally posted March 18, 2012)

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