It happened so suddenly that as I laid on the ground, I wondered if the pain I was experiencing was real or a dream. I tripped and fell in a parking lot! I had only to look up and see my husband staring at me in amazement along with the people sitting in the car two feet from me to ascertain this was very real, very embarrassing, and very painful. During the healing process I realized this was yet another “Suddenly” in my life! One that was tough to swallow at the moment but I knew from experience God would speak to me as a result if I would only listen.
Suddenlies happen! They occur as we go through life when suddenly something snaps us out of the ordinary and into something different, sometimes extraordinary! Or we persevere in applying God’s truths to our lives, sometimes for years with no apparent breakthrough, and then suddenly we are through! Romans 5:3-5 speaks to the process of persevering through tribulation and experiencing hope which keeps us alert for God’s suddenlies. “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Sometimes it may seem like things will never change because when tribulations increase, we want to give up. But if we glory in them (not for them) our suddenly will come! When we persevere we develop character which continues to create hope for the suddenlies of God!
The process of experiencing suddenlies is like learning a new math concept. I remember teaching our children how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide. There were days I wondered if they would ever grasp the concept as we persisted week after week in training drills. But then one day, Bam! A light bulb went on in their minds and they suddenly got it! Or think of potty-training children. As parents work at getting them to know and feel the need to use a toilet rather than a diaper there seem to be more accidents than successes causing some to give up and wait for their children to be ready. In reality, some children are just harder to train but when we choose to put in the time and effort no matter how hard it is and no matter how many failures they experience, our efforts will be rewarded when suddenly, one day, they’ve got it. Then we sit back and “wonder” how it happened.
Training prepares us for suddenlies by developing persistence and character! We can apply this principle to any area of life be it addictions, job training, education, bible memorization, exercise and conditioning, weight loss, or just about anything else you can think of. Life is a process of perseverance, character development, and hope! Suddenlies are the evidence that we are putting in the work!
I first came to understand God’s suddenlies when after years of struggling with worry concerning finances I experienced one of them. Even though I knew God said not to worry about anything and He had more than adequately provided for us, I was still constantly concerned about a perceived shortage of money. We always paid our bills on time, never bought anything we couldn’t afford, lived within our means, tithed and gave generously, and never lacked food, clothing, or shelter. Yet, I still worried causing me to become overly controlling with our finances and money consumed my thoughts.
I prayed about this issue often, studied the Word, confessed and repented of the sin of worry and distrust, thanked God daily for all He did provide and for His faithfulness, yet my concern continued. But then there came a day, years into this struggle that suddenly the worry vanished. It wasn’t an “astounding” moment when God showed up and said “There, there Julie. You have suffered with this sin of worry over provision long enough and I think it is time for Me to remove it from your life!” Instead, one day I suddenly realized the fear and worry was gone. A huge burden was lifted and I trusted God in a new way. We didn’t get a raise in salary, new jobs, or any other new source of income. Instead it was I who was raised to a new level of faith.
This suddenly came through tribulation (most of it self-created) which developed perseverance (acknowledging worry was sin in order to stand against it) which developed character (there is nothing instant about character development, it takes time), which gave birth to hope (which never disappoints but urges us on to more). By putting in the work I suddenly broke through and am not obsessed nor do I worry about our finances even though I continue to manage them, be a good steward, make wise choices, and even make mistakes. But now there is a total dependence and trust in God that was missing before His suddenly. It snapped me out of my ordinary and moved me into God’s extraordinary which prepared me for a lifetime of trusting Jehovah-Jireh, our Provider!
You might be wondering at this point how any of this applies to how I started this topic – my tripping and falling in the parking lot! Because suddenlies come in all forms and the principles can be applied even when things suddenly happen which look to defeat, conquer, discourage and distract us from believing God for more! When I suddenly tripped and fell I could have cried out to God “Why me, Lord?” I could have gotten angry and frustrated that once again I was in pain, had to nurse wounds, had to go through yet another healing process.
Or…. I could choose to glory in my tribulations and focus on His suddenly instead of what just happened. I could choose to remember He has never failed me. Not once! I could choose to trust Him to work good on my behalf because I love Him and am called according to His purpose. I could choose to persevere and keep my eyes on Him knowing He would develop my character to be like His. I could choose to hope in Him. I could choose to get my eyes off “me” and thank Him for His faithfulness!
No matter how suddenlies happen in life, whether they appear good or bad, if we look hard and trust God for His suddenly we will not be disappointed! I’m sure everyone thought the worst when suddenly one of Jesus’ disciples grabbed a sword and cut off an ear of a soldier. Matthew 26:51 “And suddenly, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear.” Instead, it was an opportunity to witness the Healer at work. Luke 22:51 “But Jesus answered and said, ‘Permit even this.’ And He touched his ear and healed him.” One suddenly was replaced by Jesus’ suddenly!
Or how about the suddenly in Matthew 8:24 “And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep.” This particular suddenly looked to destroy the disciples but instead it was simply another opportunity to see the Calmer at work! Verse 25-26 “Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, ‘Lord, save us! We are perishing!’ But He said to them, ‘Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?’ Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.” Another suddenly replaced by one from Jesus!
In the Gospels we read of a woman who bled for twelve years, suffered at the hands of doctors, spent all her money, and still only got worse. But she kept looking and going – she kept training! Matthew 9:20-22 “And suddenly, a woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years came from behind and touched the hem of His garment. For she said to herself, ‘If only I may touch His garment, I should be made well.’ But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, ‘Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well.’ And the woman was made well from that hour.” What a long time of enduring! But she put in the work, she persevered, she had faith in the Healer, and got her suddenly!
The night Jesus was born there was a group of shepherds who experienced quite a suddenly! They were keeping watch of their sheep when an angel showed up which created fear in them. But as the angel spoke to them about the birth of Jesus, suddenly something extraordinary happened to change their ordinary lives. Luke 2:13-14 “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” This particular suddenly moved the shepherds to “go” quickly and find the Savior, telling everyone what they saw! They got their suddenly while “doing” life which forever changed how they did life!
Then we read about believers gathering together for weeks to worship God and at just the right time when they were all unified in one place, the Church got its suddenly! Acts 2:2-4 “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” This was certainly a suddenly worth waiting for. The Church was putting in the work – they were doing what Christians are supposed to do – worship God in Spirit and in truth when suddenly their lives were changed!
How do these suddenlies compare to me suddenly finding myself in a face plant on the ground after tripping? I didn’t expect to find myself sprawled out on the asphalt that night anymore than the bleeding woman thought she would be in the presence of the Healer. After twelve years had she given up hope of healing? Most of us today might give up hope for restoration choosing instead to embrace our condition and cope with our disease. But this woman suddenly knew she would be healed! She saw something MORE in Jesus! Do we believe God can and will suddenly move on our behalf?
Or just as I didn’t expect to be suddenly on the ground after tripping, the shepherds did not expect to be suddenly serenaded by an angelic host, nor did the church suddenly expect the sound like a mighty wind to fill their house, or SEE tongues like fire atop each of their heads, or have their tongues start wagging and HEAR other languages. But yet God showed up as they were putting in the work, as they were doing life, and suddenly changed their world! Can we do life while looking forward to His suddenlies?
God is delighted to suddenly move in our lives. If you have experienced a bunch of unwelcome suddenlies don’t be dismayed. Glory in the tribulations, knowing they produce perseverance, character, and hope! If you suddenly find yourself flat on your face – look up! Expect God to suddenly find you! Persevere! And see what God can do – Suddenly!