My mind is on Easter, which makes sense because it’s my job to prepare for Easter for the children’s ministry at my church. But on a personal level, my mind is on Easter because I’ve been asking God some questions. As I pray for my loved ones who are hurting, as I chat with my friends who are discouraged, as I put clean sheets on my foster daughters’ beds, I’m asking God…
I think these are the questions that will come up each time we face something new—each time we have the option of shrinking back or moving forward in God’s plan for us.
Even though I have gone public with my goal of not shrinking back with my faith (thanks to my book and my blog), I still have an inner dialogue of wondering if maybe I have unrealistically high expectations for God to work in the situations that I’m praying about now.
I’m thinking about my friend who has been praying for her husband for years, and he still treats her like dirt. I’m thinking about my friend who I’ve been praying with for years about getting a job she will actually enjoy, and she’s gone to interview after interview and still hasn’t heard back from the last employer. I’m thinking about the friends I grew up with who are apathetic towards God, and their family members are still praying for them to come alive in Christ.
And it’s weird, but sometimes I feel guilty for believing God will answer my prayers when I knew these friends haven’t yet seen the answers they’re hoping for. Maybe my audacious faith is annoying to some of my friends. But then I stop and remind myself that their story isn’t over, that there’s more God wants to do.
As I mentioned, I asked God, “Are my expectations too high? My expectations for my prayers, for my friends, for my foster daughters—are they too high?”
I felt like God said, “The issue isn’t necessarily with how high your expectations are. What you need to be asking is if your expectations are MY expectations.”
In that same moment, the Lord reminded me of Psalm 103:3-6, as if to clarify to me what His expectations are.
“[The LORD], who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”
As I read that familiar psalm on that day, I thought, “That’s right. This is what God does.”
It might not look the way I expect it to, but this is what God does:
This is what God does. So that’s my expectation now, and I will pray in agreement with what God has said.
Like the old saying says, we are an Easter people in a Good Friday world. The situations around us often feel bleak and heartbreaking, just like Jesus’ disciples felt on the night Jesus died on the cross. But when we have the hope of Easter in us, we carry the hope of new life, of power over death and power over every single problem we’ll face.
The reality of brokenness is so daunting; I’ve felt that burden lately. But I want to be a girl who carries that Easter-hope in me into every situation I face. That Easter-hope in us helps us to believe that JESUS HAS OVERCOME. Just as Jesus overcame death in the grave, He still redeems lives from the pit. Jesus can bring new life to that person who statistics say will never change. THIS IS WHAT GOD DOES.
This is what God does, so #WeWontShrinkBack.
Here are a few things that have encouraged me this week:
P.S. Next week my girls are on Spring Break, so I will also be taking a break from my blog. (They were also on break this week too, which is why I’m a little off schedule. Lol) I’ll check in with you on April 5 with hopefully another update about my book.
Mary works at Brookville Road Community Church, where she leads children's ministry and women's ministry. She is the author of She Won't Shrink Back: A Story of Building & Believing.