Kirk and Ashleigh were in their late twenties and already knew the heartbreak of bad news. After three years of tests, procedures, and tears, they sat with the doctor as he explained that they would not be able to conceive. They had reached the end of their medical options. They would have to adjust their expectations. Eight months later they were in the same doctor’s office. Ashleigh had been sick for almost a month and the doctor sat them down with unexpected news. “I don’t know how to explain this, but you are pregnant. You are three months along. Congratulations!” They did not see this coming.
Hank thanked all the guests for coming: family, friends, and work associates. As he walked out of the banquet hall he reflected on a wonderful career that had spanned five decades. All night people had asked him, “So, what will you do with yourself now that you’re retired?” He was quick to show the picture of the beautiful motor home he and his wife had purchased and equipped for their two-year journey across the country. One morning the following week, as the sun arose, Hank got up to stretch and start his day. The stroke hit him with no warning. By the evening he was stable, alive, but his retirement plans had been radically redefined. He and his wife would be working on rehab and speech development rather than traveling and exploring the country. “Retirement” took a sudden and unexpected turn.
Tami packed her bags the day after her college graduation and started a two-thousand-mile trip across the country to an exciting summer job at a camp in the mountains. She had everything planned and scheduled. Two months working at camp and then back home to start a career teaching somewhere near family and friends. The unexpected snuck up on her. In the first week of her short-term adventure she met the man she would eventually marry. To the shock of her family and friends, this small-town girl took a job teaching on the other side of the country, got married, started a family, and settled into a life in a place she had never dreamed of putting down roots. It was entirely unexpected!
The unexpected, along with its sorrow or joy, happens to all of us.
Every day of our lives includes the opportunity for us to be pleasantly surprised with glorious good news or blindsided with the pain of bad news. This is the nature of life, both yours and mine.
Talk About It
Tell about a time God surprised you with a renewed friendship, a great opportunity, or a much-needed breakthrough.
Tell about a time the unexpected was painful and hit your life like a wave you did not see coming.
We have not been called to control life, to endure life, or to barely make it in this life. Jesus came that we may know life and life more abundant.
Watch Session One: Unexpected by Christine Caine
As you watch the video teaching segment for session one, use the following outline to record anything that stands out to you.
- When unexpected waves crash on the shore of your life
- What you can expect in this Unexpected study
- Called to an unexpected journey of faith
- Life has its fair share of tragedy and hardship
- Why some people do not expect to experience God’s goodness
- A story of heavenly blessing invades a “hopeless” life (Acts 3:1–10):
- An invitation to expect more of God
- The condition
- The need
- The lifestyle
- Learning to expect God’s redemption, restoration, and new beginnings
- Jesus is in the business of doing glorious and unexpected things
- Believe God for the unexpected
- God is a God of redemption, restoration, and new beginnings.
Video Discussion and Bible Study
- Tell your group members which of the following three statements comes closest to reflecting how you live your life. Then, share how your life matches up to your expectations.
- I tend to anticipate and brace myself for hard times, difficult situations, and struggles in life.
- I tend to expect things to go well, my life to be blessed, and my heart will be filled with joy.
- I don’t really expect things to go good or bad; I just live life and see what happens.
- Christine shares that some people fear the unexpected, avoid the unexpected, and ignore the unexpected. What are some of the reasons a person would approach the unexpected in any of these three ways?
Fear of the unexpected often paralyzes us and stops us from stepping into the fullness of the life that God has for us.
Read: Psalm 119:68; 2 Timothy 1:7; and John 10:10
- Take a moment to pray and ask God to help you identify one or two good things He might want you to expect with bold faith.
Share one of these with your group and let them know how they can be praying for you to grow bold in expectation of God’s goodness in your life.
Read: Acts 3:1–10
- As you read this passage, what do you learn about the beggar, his condition, and his outlook on life?
We were never called to live predictable lives that are naturally possible. We are called to pursue a supernatural journey of faith.
- The man in this story had a limitation that got in the way of him fully expecting God to work in a powerful and personal way. What is a limiting situation or condition in your life that keeps you from fully trusting God and expecting His best?
When God does the unexpected, He gets the glory.
Read: Hebrews 12:1–3
- What are ways we can fix our eyes on Jesus and lift our faces to see Him, even when life is challenging?
Look up today, fix your eyes on Jesus, and expect the unexpected.
- When the man in Acts 3 received God’s touch and healing, he jumped and praised God. What are actual ways you can become a community who “jumps and praises God” when He does the unexpected in each of your lives?
We often overestimate what people can do for us, and underestimate what God wants to do for us.
Spend time in your group praying in any of the following directions:
- Thank God for the unexpected blessings you have received.
- Pray for strength to be strong and trust Jesus when unexpected pain and sorrow come crashing into your life.
- Pray for courage to follow God on whatever unexpected journey He calls you to begin.
- Invite God to use your human “limitations” to turn your eyes toward Him so you can receive all He wants to give you.
God has so much more in store for you, and instead of fearing the unexpected, avoiding the unexpected, or ignoring the unexpected, it is time to pray for, and embrace the unexpected in our lives.
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Come share your thoughts on Unexpected with us on our blog! We want to hear from you.