Perhaps the most persistent misconception in politics and entertainment is that of the “overnight sensation,” the apparent unknown who seems to emerge from obscurity and ascend instantly to the spotlight. The same perceptive illusion often arises in other areas, such as the fad or product which incongruously appears to have achieved widespread popularity almost before it's noticed. Even in everyday life we are prone to view events as though they began at the moment we noticed them – the “sudden” appearance of a car entering traffic, a “sudden” change in the weather, even the “sudden” fall of sunset or blare of the alarm clock.
We realize intellectually that although such events might be unanticipated, none of these events is truly “sudden” in any sense. The clock was set to ring, the storm gathered before it struck, the faddish product was diligently marketed, and the “rising star” worked, often for many years, to become that “overnight sensation.” Even from a human perspective, every occurrence can be traced back through a series of steps to a cause. The believer can trace that path much farther.
Scripture gives us many examples of “sudden” occurrences. Ahab is approached “suddenly” by a prophet (1 Kings 20:13). Job's children are stricken by a “sudden” wind (Job 1:19). An afflicted woman “suddenly” meets her Savior (Matthew 9:20). The Gospel of Mark is notable for, among many other things, the writer's frequent use of the Greek expression “kai euthus,” which has been variously (depending primarily on context) interpreted as “quickly,” “promptly,” “as soon as,” “at once,” and of course “suddenly” One example may be found in Mark 1:28, where, after the ministry and imprisonment of John, the calling of disciples, teaching in the synagogue, and casting out an unclean spirit, Jesus' fame “suddenly” or “immediately” spread throughout the region. For each of these it would be possible for a witness to trace events which led up to them, but of course all of the “sudden” events in the Bible, as well as those which precede them, have their source in the will of God. Events which had been prepared, and often promised, only seemed sudden when they came about.
Perhaps in your life, as in mine, the past year has seemed filled with those unexpected “sudden” occurrences which surprise us and sometimes threaten to overwhelm. Economic and health issues, concern for family and friends, changes in church or employment situation; so many things remind us of our dependence on God. And that, of course, is the point: none of these things surprise Him. In Isaiah 48:3, He tells His people “I have declared the former things from the beginning; They went forth from My mouth, and I caused them to hear it. Suddenly I did them, and they came to pass.” Those things which to us appear “sudden” are not just used by God, but known to Him “from the beginning.” And more than that – they are for our good.
What a deep and genuine comfort it is to confess that “He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven; in fact, all things must work together for my salvation!”
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,“plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.Jeremiah 29:11