Last week was filled with unexpected events.
On Monday and Wednesday, the Chinese stock exchange fell the maximum of 7 percent. Oil continued to fall. North Korea tested what they reported to be a Hydrogen bomb. The U.S. stock market had the worst first week of a new year in history. Most of the world's stocks indices suffered similar fates. Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties with Iran, dramatically increasing Middle East tensions.
In addition, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the December employment report. The strong report was unexpected. The month-to-month change in December payrolls (total nonfarm) was reported to be a very strong 292,000 compared to an average forecast of 200,000. November's estimate was also revised upward from 211,000 to 252,000. The unemployment rate remained an expected 5 percent. Details reveal that most increases were due to seasonal adjustments, but surprisingly the U.S. stock market still closed the day down.
The Word is also filled with examples of where the Lord surprised His people in big ways. As 120 faithful believers waited and prayed diligently, they expected to be filled with power from on high.
They probably did not expect to hear a sound like a mighty, rushing wind from heaven or see tongues of fire, which rested on each one of them. They were likely surprised when they began to praise the mighty works of God in other tongues. Peter would have been in awe when 3,000 accepted the Lord on his first sermon after Pentecost.
Peter and John had faith when they prayed for boldness and asked the Lord to heal and perform signs and wonders as they prayed in the name of Jesus. But did they expect an earthquake and to be filled (refilled) with the Holy Spirit? When Peter was freed from prison by an angel, he thought he was having a vision. He did not expect an angel to come and free him. When he arrived at the house where the people who had been praying for him were, they did not believe it was Peter. His arrival was unexpected.
"He went out and followed him, and did not know that what was done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision" (Acts 12:9).
"When she recognized Peter's voice, from joy she did not open the door, but ran in and announced that Peter was standing at the door. They said to her, 'You are insane.' But she insisted that it was really so. So they said, 'It is his angel.' But Peter continued knocking. And when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished" (Acts 12:14-16).
The last days will be perilous (2 Tim. 3:1). We will see many unexpected events in this world. Many of these events will be seen in rapid succession and some will be world changing. We should pray for wisdom, protection, guidance and for the Lord's supernatural involvement. As we approach the Lord in confidence, we know that whatever we ask, we will receive.
"Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, then we have confidence before God. And whatever we ask, we will receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight" (1 John 3:21-22).
But we should also recognize that His ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts. He can answer our prayers any way He chooses. We should expect to be surprised with His miraculous hand. We should expect His unexpected.
"We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose" (Rom. 8:28).
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we ask or imagine, according to the power that works in us" (Eph. 3:20).
Dr. James R. Russell is professor of economics and chair of the Undergraduate College of Business at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
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