After years of witnessing God in action it no longer surprises me when I see Him in the details, neither has it become commonplace for me. Every time it happens my heart soars and often, like my mother before me, I burst out singing the Doxology. “Praise God from whom all blessings flow praise Him all creatures here below…”

Another thing that I have learned is that troubles, hiccups, and inconveniences are the very soil God uses to plant His surprises. Who after planting a garden hasn’t gone out daily to check for little green sprouts? Likewise, when trials come knocking on my door I start looking for God’s surprises one of the reasons why James can say “…when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. (James 1:2 NLT)”

Yesterday a shipment of calendars arrived. The box was mangled and beaten up. My heart fell when I discovered that thirty calendars were missing and ten were damaged. The damage wasn’t bad but just enough that I wouldn’t feel comfortable using them to fill orders. I added them to a small stack of cards, magnets, and bookmarks with tiny imperfections. I smiled as the thought came to me “I will send the calendars and the other items to Hope House for the women in recovery from drug addictions.” When this particular facility was renovated and prepared,  volunteers hung two of my prints in every room.

The ladies have come to love God’s promises and I knew they would treasure the calendars. As I sat at my computer and messaged my friend Sandy, I told her what had happened and asked how many ladies were currently residing at the home. When I heard the “ding” announcing that I had received a message I smiled and thought wouldn’t that be like God to be ten ladies! And so there were! “Ten!” she replied. A claim was put in for the damaged and missing calendars and will be replaced. Once again God planted a surprise in the soil of trial.

The evening before I spotted another surprise, planted in God’s “garden of trials.” Our son-in-law has been struggling with an illness for several months to the point that he has been unable to work. A generous friend gave me a check to give to him and our daughter. Once home I looked at the check and noticed that it had been post-dated a month in advance. When I gave it to our daughter she burst out, “Mom, the check is written for November!” She was overwhelmed as she told me the importance of November.

Being a preschool teacher she would be losing a week of employment because of Thanksgiving. “Mom,” she said, “We wouldn’t have had enough money to pay our rent.” Now I was curious, so I called my friend and thanked her again then asked if she had meant to post-date the check. “Oh, dear did I do that?” “Yes,” I replied “But wait, don’t worry this was God!”

I challenge you when difficulties start to overwhelm you and when you feel like nothing is going right. Claim Romans 8:28 and start looking for God’s surprises. Remember He likes to plant them in the soil of trials.

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28 NLT

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