When life takes an unexpected turn, it’s easy to miss what Jesus is doing in the mix. That was the case for the disciples.
After the resurrection, the disciples weren’t sure what they should do so they did what was familiar – fishing (John 21:1-4). They had been fishing all night but their nets were empty. Tired, frustrated, and hungry they didn’t recognize Jesus when He appeared on the shore at daybreak. It wasn’t until they saw the miracle that occurred when He told them to throw their nets on the other side that they realized it was the Lord. Maybe they didn’t recognize Him because of the early morning haze or because they were pre-occupied. But here’s what I know: often in your life, and mine particularly, when we’re tired, frustrated, overwhelmed, or caught off guard, we don’t recognize Jesus either. In those moments, we can fail to recognize that God is at work even though we don’t see Him.
If, however, we intentionally look for Jesus, we might be surprised to find He really is at work. The question is, how? How do we intentionally look for Jesus when life feels dark? Here are a few ideas that have helped me:
- When life takes an unexpected turn, our bodies can go into fight-or-flight mode. That’s the gift God gave us to help us move out of a dangerous situation. But we don’t want to stay in fight-or-flight. After you’ve moved from danger, pause and reflect. Putting the pause in helps you to respond to a situation with wisdom rather than reacting out of panic.
- Ask yourself the question, “Where is Jesus in this?” Let me give you an example: last autumn Steve and I were trying to travel home from Spain. We made our first flight but it was terribly delayed in take off. As a result we missed our connecting flight and there were no other flights available that day. Steve and I were both tired and frustrated. I began to pray silently, “Lord Jesus, you know how anxious I am to get home. Show me where you are in this delay.” The airline put us up in a beautiful hotel and provided meals for us, and the delay ended up being a blessing. Steve and I both got a much needed wonderful night’s sleep. We were able to continue our journey well-rested and refreshed. But we might have missed the blessed had we not asked the question, “Jesus, where are you in this?”
- Look for the blessing. Train yourself in the mantra, “But the blessing is…” By training your brain to think about the blessing, you will find the surprises Jesus has for you far more quickly. The disciples didn’t catch fish all night, but the blessing was that it was the perfect moment for a miracle! When Jesus told them to cast their nets on the other side, they quickly obeyed because they were desperate! Today, in the middle of the chaos of your life, train yourself to say, “But, the blessing is…” and then intentionally look for Jesus in your situation!
Friend, in the unexpected twists and turns of life, it’s easy to miss what God is doing. Here’s a question for you: where has Jesus shown up in unexpected ways in your life? How has He surprised you when life felt dark? Your comment might encourage another, so please share your thoughts.