Have you ever pondered the “suddenlies” in life--things that happen unexpectedly and seemingly without warning? They can set in motion changes in your life or turn things momentarily upside down. But are the suddenlies actually events that have been put in motion earlier? Hmmm…
Yesterday morning I awoke early with this on my mind and decided to delve a bit deeper, so I invite you to join me as together we consider some of the suddenlies of life.
The definition of suddenly is pretty straightforward in Webster’s Dictionary and the Hebrew and Greek usage found in Strong’s Concordance and Lexicon. It refers to things that are unexpected or that happen sooner than we anticipate. For instance, we all expect to die eventually should the Lord tarry, but it’s the how and when we, or our loved ones, will die that can come suddenly upon us and take us off-guard.
A beloved family member of mine had one of those “suddenlies” this year. One day she was outside doing some gardening and even biking in her neighborhood. But the next day, she found herself in the hospital undergoing a myriad of tests and learning that she had terminal cancer. Turns out that her “suddenly” had been going on undercover for about a year. Were there warning signs? Yes, in hindsight, but even doctors months earlier did not detect the reality of the problem. The upheaval and repositioning of hearts in the weeks that followed had a ripple effect and touched family and friends alike, as was evidenced at her beautiful memorial service months later. God was not taken by surprise, for He knows the end from the beginning. But in the process of going through a “suddenly,” we often find that relationships can become more honest with family and friends--and, more importantly, with the Lord who never leaves or forsakes us.
In February 2021, an EF3 tornado hit a section of our community several miles from our home. It came in the dark of night--around 11:45 p.m--when most were either already sleeping or about to go to bed. The twister was preceded by unusually loud peals of thunder, crackles of lightning--and for those in the strike zone—the roar of what sounded like an approaching train. In an instant, one house was lifted off the ground and repositioned somewhere else in a shambles. Others had roofs collapse, windows blown in, trees broken or felled by the strong winds that reached up to 160-mph and made a precarious path through that neighborhood, tragically leaving 3 dead, 10 injured, and 53 homes damaged or destroyed. Lives were changed dramatically in a matter of minutes, and I daresay that prayer was lifted to the heavenlies both in concern for those injured or who lost loved ones and homes as well as in thanksgiving for lives and property spared.
This is an example of something coming upon a community of people that was not expected or forewarned and that brought harm and devastation to many. But it also brought out the good in others as God worked through them to come to help and rescue the hurting, frightened, and needy. It took only a short amount of time for the sheriff’s department, rescue workers, medical teams, and emergency vehicles to be dispatched to the disaster site. Loving concern and acts of kindness were part of the scenes that played out over the weeks and months following the disaster. Prayers ascended to God on their behalf and lives continue to be put back together—forever touched by such an event but moving forward by the grace of God. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one thinking about the reality of scriptures that speak of the brevity of life and the prayer that God would “teach us to number our days so that we might apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:12) and fulfill all that God has called us to do in this life.
…AND SUDDENLY THE HEAVENS OPENED!
A biblical example of a natural disaster that was forewarned but that went unheeded is the story of Noah, the ark, and the subsequent flood that covered the earth. Up until the flood, many scholars believe that it had never rained on the earth, for it had a vapor canopy that was like a terrarium watered by the mists and morning dew (Genesis 1:6,7; 2:5). God chose Noah—a righteous man living in the midst of a corrupt people—to build an ark as a place of safety for him, his family, and those who would believe in Him and take refuge within the ark when the rains came. Imagine the ridicule he and his family received during the approximate 75 years that it took to complete the ark and gather animals from every species to also save in the ark. What a spectacle that must have been to those with unbelieving hearts!
Then suddenly the heavens opened up and rain began to fall (Genesis 7:11)! It was unexpected by the majority of the people, but it surely was forewarned. They had heard about it for years, but they had not prepared their hearts for their own preservation and salvation because of their unbelief. They did not have ears to hear the truth!
That brings to mind the soon coming of Jesus Christ to rapture His believing Church out of this earth to our heavenly home. Whether you are pre-trib, mid-trib, or post-trib, many are the warnings that continue to go forth through preachers, teachers, and the Body of Christ calling us to be spiritually vigilant and ready. At the same time, many are the unbelieving hearts that reject the thought that such a thing will ever happen.
But the Bible indicates in 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18 that the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, the voice of an archangel, and the trumpet of God. The dead in Christ will rise first and those believers in Jesus who are still alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds. It is there they will meet the Lord in the air as He comes to take His Bride! That is the blessed hope and surely good news for believers in Jesus Christ!
But what if you are not a believer in Jesus? The good news is that there is still time for you to receive Him by faith as your Savior and Lord before that day suddenly comes upon us! Simply believe and confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who died for your sin and was raised from the dead in victory over death, hell, and the grave so that you might have eternal life in heaven. Repent of your sin and ask Jesus to forgive you of your sin, to come into your life and heart as Lord and Savior. You will be suddenly changed and born again into new life in Christ. That is the best and most important suddenly you will ever experience!
Speaking of birth, that brings to mind a wonderful “suddenly”. You know it will come to pass and the day of delivery will come, but the exact day and hour are not known. Then one day, when you least expect it, the labor pains begin in great strength, or the water breaks, and off you go into the amazing blessing of a new little life to hold, love, and raise with a heart to know, love, and serve Jesus! Oh, the stories we can tell…!
GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST!
Imagine that holy night as recorded in Luke 2 when the skies broke open over the shepherds who were watching their flocks outside of Bethlehem. The angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord burst forth around them. Their fear turned to awe and joy as the angel announced the birth of their long-awaited Messiah and King and as the heavenly host appeared singing “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men!” At last, He had come, and those humble shepherds had the privilege of being among the first to worship Him! O the glory of Emmanuel, God with us!
Saul of Tarsus had another kind of glory come upon him as he traveled the road to Damascus to arrest the followers of Jesus and return them to Jerusalem to appear before the Sanhedrin. According to Acts 9, a bright light literally blinded him and caused him to fall to the ground. It was then that he heard the voice of Jesus speaking to him. Blind for three days, he then received his sight and the call to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles. It was a “suddenly” that turned into a calling that would affect the world for generations and centuries to come!
Only a few years earlier, 120 disciples had been obediently waiting for the promise of the Holy Ghost to come upon them and to empower them to take the gospel into all the world! They didn’t know when that would happen or what it would be like. All they knew was that the Holy Spirit was the Spirit of Truth who would remind them of everything that Jesus had told them and would live inside of them always. He would empower them to exemplify Christ and to do all that He asked of them as His witnesses in the earth. And so, with expectant hearts, they waited and prayed In one accord in an upper room in Jerusalem.
“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:1-4).
Now that was a suddenly accompanied by the awesome glory of God! It came in the fullness of time, according to God’s will, and according to their obedient and expectant hearts. Empowered and indwelt by the Spirit of the Living God, this band of believers went forth in a boldness they never had before to preach and teach the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, turning the world upside-down as they went. That is our calling as well! (Matthew 28:18-20).
So, no matter what unexpected “suddenlies” happen in our lives, may we always look to the Lord in faith believing that indeed He is with us always, even to the ends of the earth. His purposes for us—despite what we see with our natural eyes or feel in our own human emotions or physical bodies--are plans and thoughts of peace and not evil, to give us hope and the expected end and future that God has planned for us all along! (Jeremiah 29:11; Ephesians 2:10).
The Lord followed those words by saying that as we call unto Him in prayer, and seek Him with all our hearts, He will be found by us—sounds like the disciples waiting and praying in the Upper Room, doesn’t it? Oh, may the Spirit of God so fill us that we walk forward in a fresh boldness to proclaim the glory of the Lord! May He give us eyes to see beyond the circumstances of those things that suddenly befall us. Instead, may we see His good hand guiding us through them and His strong and mighty right arm working on our behalf as we press toward the things He has promised us in His Word and has already set into motion!
What victories have you experienced through a “suddenly” in your life?
Pressing onward in Christ,
Dr. Kathy Bojanowski has been teaching God's Word for forty years in various venues, such as churches, Bible colleges, meetings, and on Christian radio. She is the Founder/Executive Director of For His Glory Ministries & Bible College and oversees three affiliate colleges in Africa. She also is the Director and Lead Instructor at For His Glory Bible Fellowship in North Carolina - an interdenominational weekly women's Bible study.