Better than Expected


Read Matthew 12:18-20

The Israelites expected the Messiah to come and put an end to all the oppression and injustice in their physical circumstances. They expected a political or military leader to free them from the oppression they faced at the hand of the Romans. However, this passage from the prophet Isaiah paints a very different picture of Jesus the Messiah: Jesus came quietly and in peace to restore broken lives from the inside out, forgiving sins, mending hearts, and healing physical circumstances.

I have so often prayed and expected God to show up in a certain way, to answer my prayer the way I think best, but then I end up discouraged or confused when He doesn’t move in the way I expect or I don’t seem to see Him work at all.

Many of the Israelites completely missed the Messiah they had been hoping and praying for because of their expectations of who He was supposed to be and how He was supposed to come.

Just like the Israelites, I can so easily get caught up in my own expectations instead of seeking His reality, and end up completely missing the ways He is constantly at work in and around me. But when I look back on those times where I thought God hadn’t delivered, I see now that He was at work powerfully—just in ways I didn’t recognize because I had my own warped expectations.

Jesus didn’t directly deliver the Israelites from oppression and injustice at the hand of the Romans, but God’s plan was immensely better than their expectations: Jesus came to bring hope and salvation that is eternal; salvation that is so much deeper than just freedom from the physical oppression of our enemies. He came to turn the whole world upside down and to bring His kingdom here.

For Personal Reflection: When was a time God showed up differently than you expected or wanted? Looking back, why do you think He answered your prayer differently than you had hoped?

✧ Nativity Building: Place the Baby Jesus figure in the stable. In the middle of the night, in this little barn, Jesus was born! “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son . . .” (John 3:16).

by Miranda Stark


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