Enduring the Unexpected

BY SUSIE ROWAN, BSF EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Unexpected.  

Perhaps that’s one way to describe the events and realities of our world today. 

Of course, there are other words. The events of 2020 and 2021 have been described as “unprecedented,” “unparalleled,” “unending.” But I think “unexpected” captures it well.  

Let’s think about it: 

  • A global pandemic.  That was unexpected. 
  • The ensuing fear, isolation, quarantine, and separation.  That was unexpected. 
  • The mass turmoil, tension, loss, and dissension.  That was unexpectedand heartbreaking.

Recently, like you, I’ve mourned the unexpected loss of friendsMany of us on the BSF staff are in daily contact with BSF friends in India, Brazil, Madagascar, Kenya, and other communities where  suffering continues through the rising pandemic. As I reflect on these realities, I have taken comfort from our study of Joseph’s life in Genesis 3750.  

Joseph certainly endured many unexpected realities. At a young age, Joseph’s dreams and expectations were highYet it was only a matter of time before those dreams were seemingly dashed and those expectations seemingly crushed. Rather than an immediate and expected ascension to leadership, Joseph unexpectedly endured:

  • Betrayal 
  • Slavery 
  • False accusations 
  • Imprisonment 

And yet what did God do with Joseph’s unexpected circumstances? 

The entire book of Genesis culminates with the truth of Genesis 50:20 as Joseph declares to his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.” 

Even in the most unexpected, most unwanted circumstances of Joseph’s life, God did the unexpected – He brought about good. Joseph’s story reassures us that the Fall, sin, and suffering have not and cannot thwart God’s ability to affect good in our livesThe same Creator God who declared “and it was good” in Genesis 1 is the same Creator God who intended it for good” in Genesis 50.  

Praise God!  

Genesis is Only the Beginning

 As we fast forward through history and the Old Testament, we find time and time again that God works in unexpected ways, in the unexpected places of life.

No doubt this truth is most profoundly embodied through the Person and work of Jesus Christ,” who is “God with us (Matthew 1:23).  

In fact, as we anticipate next year’s BSF study of Matthew, we proclaim and celebrate the truth that He is our “Unexpected King.”

But how was Jesus unexpected?

After all, in many ways He was completely expected. Since God’s proclamation in Genesis 3:15 that the woman’s offspring would crush the serpent’s head, the Messiah had been long awaited, long expected. However, though the Messiah’s appearance was long expected – even prophesied – many of the details of His appearance were not.

God works in unexpected ways, in the unexpected places of life.

Though the people expected the Messiah to appear in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), they did not expect He would appear in what looked like scandal (Matthew 1:18-19). 

And though the people expected a King (Isaiah 9:6-7), they did not expect this King would be worshipped by pagan star followers yet missed by His own Jewish people (Matthew 2:1-12). 

The people did not expect the King’s herald would be a man dressed in camel’s hair eating locusts and wild honey (Matthew 3:1-4). 

They did not expect the King’s message would be, “blessed are the poor in spirit  the meek  the persecuted” (Matthew 5:3-12).

It was unexpected that this King would come to serve (Matthew 20:28). And unexpected for this King to assert the last would be first (Matthew 20:16).

It was unexpected our King would dieAnd unexpected our King would rise.

Facing the Unexpected

What unexpected circumstance do you face today? For me, it is not knowing what to expect as we transition from San Antonio to a new season in Kansas City near our family. Retirement is expected, but I am sure there is much ahead that is not! 

God delights – perhaps even specializes  in working in and through the unexpected circumstances of your life and mineWhere we feel most desperate, most fearful, most needy and shameful, God is powerfully present to do the unexpected. 

Will you bring your concerns to Jesus? He is our “Unexpected King.” Though His ways are not our ways, He will prove faithful. He will be perfectly faithful to you while being perfectly faithful to me. He will be perfectly faithful to His church while being perfectly faithful to BSF and to other ministries that serve Him. And in the end, we will find His ways exceed even our greatest expectations.  

752 Comments

  1. Thank you for your wonderfully succinct and carefully chosen words. I could hear the inflection in your voice from previous blogs that expressed meaningful emphasis. I especially loved the connection between Gen. 1 and Gen. 50 about GOD’s goodness. In our share time for both the children’s program and the groups (I am a children’s leader – seniors) so many shared about the difficulties unexpected this year. We all agreed that we thrived spiritually despite our difficulties thru the study of GOD’s people, flawed though they were, and His amazing faithfulness, mercy and grace. My husband experienced kidney failure, unexpected retirement, and surgery. We both relied on the prayers of those in our church and BSF, and GOD has been an Amazing Physician. We will miss you and will pray for your new beginning in Kansas.

    Reply
  2. Thank you so much for the Blog. I really enjoyed the study of Genesis. I too enjoyed reading and discussing Joseph. It was amazing to see how God used him to save His people during the famine. God continously shows me how awesome He is. And no matter what I’ve done, God’s plans won’t change.

    Reply
  3. I have always remembered to bring my concerns to Jesus Christ and He has never told me it is not going to work today but He has always answered my prayers. In this unexpected loosing my blood brother it was not easy but He comforted me. Thank you Sussie for sharing. Be blessed.

    Reply
  4. Thank you for all you do. God bless you on your next journey.

    Reply
  5. Thank you Susie. Very encouraged by your blog. Indeed we serve a God who works thru the “unexpected”. Thank you for your service and love for God’s people.

    Reply
  6. Genesis Bible study has been a great experience and blessing. ABBA, FATHER not only spoke and confirmed to my husband and I, but to me individually as well. The Holy Spirit had move in my husband’s heart and in mine about taking the step of faith and moving out from a certain place that had been our comfort zone for a long time. He brought us together to come in one agreement. Then he confirmed in his right around the same time he spoke to us with the story of Abraham taking the step of faith and leaving in Genesis chapter 12. Later, I experienced something for the very first time that was critical. I ran to him for help and to speak to me of how to take care of that situation. He spoke to me again in his right timing with the story of Joseph and his brothers in Genesis chapter 43-44. The Holy Spirit is still clarifying things to me and how is also working in me to prepare me for my next step. I have learned that His plans are for His works so that He may show His power and be glorified.
    I thank ABBA FATHER for His love for He orchestrates everything to show us how much He loves us, so that we and others fully surrender to him and to reconcile. Thank you Lord Jesus, the Anointed and Holy One of Israel for he is our Redeemer, we have are bought by his by his precious blood, cleaned, and justified. And thank you Holy Spirit for he intercede for us, he is our Peace and Counselor, and . Comforter . I exalt the Most High, and the Almighty. He is SOVEREIGN and is the ALPHA and OMEGA the BEGINNING and the END and is coming as our King of kings and Lord of lords, Jesus Christ!

    Reply
    • Thank you Susie for all your encouraging words throughout your years serving Jesus at BSF.
      I have been so very thankful to have God’s, never changing, always perfect word and truth this year. In a world that has been in such chaos this past year, it has been good to have BSF, God’s word and fellowship of believers to study Genesis together and be able to rest in trusting God’s plan and perfect timing.
      I, and a group of 15 other ladies, from Asheville, NC and Ohio, have come out every summer to volunteer at headquarters. We missed that last year and pray we will be needed in the future to be able to serve again.
      Enjoy your new season in life serving Jesus wherever He leads you.
      Loved serving Jesus with you and all of BSF.
      Friends in Christ, Carmen James

      Reply
  7. Well said. Bless you, there is no doubt, God is better than good. ” Do not fear or be dismayed.Deuteronomy 31:8″ As Abraham says: “Will not the judge of all the earth do what is right?” Genesis 18:25. YES HE WILL!

    Reply
  8. To God be the glory!
    Thank you for your faithful service Susie! May you and your family feel Gods blessings!

    Reply
  9. he leads me when i say I’m sorry I offended you and feel joy when the reply is not today what is meaningful will last it’s personal and unexpected

    Reply
  10. I love your comments on this year’s theme. Unexpected.
    I see the connections in Genesis and in the world around us.
    Enjoy your new life near family in Kansas City; and thank you for your leadership in BSF❤️

    Reply
  11. Congratulations on a job well done in this season of your life, Susie. Thank you for blessing so many of us through your teaching and leadership. You have brought BSF to a new level of ability to reach the world through technology that keeps changing whether we like it or not. But SO many can be reached now through our online groups that wouldn’t have been reached before. Thank you for being willing to make changes that were needed, even if many found those difficult or scary. Because you did that, we (BSF) were already ready when COVID 19 hit unexpectedly and God’s Word continued to be taught and the ministry never “shut down”. I’m sure God will continue to use you, just from a different location. Enjoy your family. I’m sure they have missed you. Please let them know we appreciate their sacrifice in sharing you with us. To God be the Glory!

    Reply
  12. Thank you very much am so much encouraged by your timely message. May God bless you.

    Reply
  13. Thank you so much for your loving self sacrificing service. Thank you for blessing women, men and children all around the globe!

    Reply
  14. Thank you for your blog. From Genesis I have learned that God works His will in spite of me. I’ve learned that if I keep my focus on Jesus (God, as Joseph did) God will bring me through whatever my circumstances are. I am rejoicing & praising God for His grace, mercy, & love because He has brought my wife & I thru Covid. Nina is still on O2, but she is home & the plan is to wean her off the O2. Thank you for BSF. I pray that all BSF people will be able to meet in the same room when Mathew starts.

    Reply
  15. Awesome insights and glory to our God who is the same Yesterday, Today, and Forever!!

    Reply
  16. Through BSF, I found myself growing, becoming bolder to invite friends to join BSF.
    Discussions became deeper, I grew in not prejudging people.I became more patient. I gained more friends and was able to help them through their journey.
    Two of my friends passed away but God guided me in being steadfast and loving.
    My Mom was an evangelist and would be proud of my growth.My friend, Carolyn introduced us to BSF.Could it be ten years plus?

    Reply
    • Thank you, BSF staff, teachers, moderators and friends I have gained. Blessings to all

      Reply
  17. My son passed away 3 weeks ago. He was 36. I need God’s continued strength to help carry me through well I agree loss of my son.

    Reply
    • Dear Lisa, you are deeply loved and covered in prayer.
      Heavenly Father, surround this dear sister with your Spirit’s comfort and presence. Help her to know that she is not alone. You too, Lord, experienced the loss of a son and You feel her grief deeply. Thank you, Father, for her heart to seek You and desire to draw near to You. Meet her today and in every moment. Give her an deep and intimate sense of Your nearness.

      Reply
  18. Thank you Susie for serving all of us in Bible Study Fellowship. God knew years ago that you were who He would call to Executive leadership that would last through a global pandemic. You have served Him and all of us faithfully. Enjoy time with your family. Thank you.

    In Him together!

    Reply
  19. Thank you! God bless you on your next journey.

    Reply
  20. To God be the glory!

    Reply
  21. suzie, I wish you a successful, fruitful retirement life but not tired in God’s Vineyard,God most importantly, I wish to thank you for what you have done for the BSF, God will abudantly biess you.

    Reply
  22. Thank you very much Susie!

    You have been a great blessing to us in BSF and may the Lord God be with you in the next phase as He directs on the great plans He has for you being the Master Creator and making things beautiful in His time.

    God bless you and your family!

    Reply
    • Wishing you a blissful retirement and God’s favor as you start a new chapter in your life. May you continue to serve him all the days of your life. Thank you for your timely message, I resonate with it during this unexpected time. God bless you!

      Reply
  23. The study of Genesis is life transforming for not only me, but my family as well. BSF has done a terrific job in helping me to love this awesome God and anchoring me on His Word. Thank God for you amazing people at BSF family. Thank God for my BSF leaders, past and present. Thank you Susie. May God continue to lead and guide you in your wonderful journey ahead!

    Reply
  24. Hi Susie I agree totally with you. Yes a new season for you as God’s children never retire! Yes we should ponder on the “unexpected” as often we pray and expects the answer to be what we perceived it should be. However we must really reflect on the “unexpected” or we may miss out on the answer that God has already given. He moves in a mysterious way and His ways and thoughts are higher than ours.

    In His time He makes all things beautiful so we must practice patience and wait.

    Reply
  25. Dear Susie, rest in HIM. We never retire serving a faithful GOD.

    Reply
  26. This blog was so inspiring, uplifting, refreshing my memory of key happenings in the bible. The writing was vivid, and I pictured various portrayals of stories from the bible, all the while knowing the correct scripture and happenings from my BSF studies. Thank you.

    Reply
  27. Praise the Lord! Well i work with Scripture Union Uganda. Indeed it was unexpected to see a whole year no children and youth conf, no schools work. seeing children just waking up to eat and play, it was unexpected indeed. God is amazing He knew that such a year will come when no one is visiting the other, all nations no crossing to another. In Africa when one losses a person people gather to mourn and encourage but this time almost mourn alone one feels people have deserted them by the sorrow becomes so bad.
    Anyway thanks to God things are changing much as our brothers in India still going through tough times, we pray for them for God’s mercy to heal the land.

    Thank you so much will try to join Book of Matthew.
    God bless you.
    Susie God bless you. Just take heart God is in control of every situation. Nothing takes him by surprise.

    Reply
    • To God be the Glory Great Things HE has done!!

      Reply
  28. Indeed God works in unexpected ways. Sometimes HE parts the sea for us, sometimes He walks us on water and carries us through and sometimes He just hushes the storm. Thanks Susie and may the good Lord bless you and the BSF team.

    Reply
  29. Yes, I expect plenty of unexpected happenings. Thank you for motivaating me to faith In God despite the unexpected. He will see me thro’ the enexpected to give me more than I can imagine, for He is good and He is big. Glory to His name.

    Reply
  30. Praise God. I have been greatly encouraged by this article as I have been going through a lot of pain because of my children seemingly hopeless situations.

    Reply
  31. Yes Susie, “unexpected” is the perfect description of our LORD’s gracious directing of our lives deep in the details… thank you for your inspiring service to the BSF Collective and to me individually

    Reply
  32. Thank you – I joined BSF in 2013 after meeitng with two dear frineds in Houston Christmas Day and having dinner. I was active with BSF for about 8 yars, my church is very active. This past year I had plenty church activities however I would like to remain connected to BSF going forward. How can I stay connected?

    Reply
    • Susie, I wish you God’s Blessings and favor for your retirement.
      Thank you for your years of service to BSF making it possible for me to be a part of this great group of women.
      Your blog says it all!!
      Looking forward to meeting the “unexpected” in the book of Matthew.

      Reply
    • Oh Susie, we will miss you and your wise counsel and Godly leadership. Yet we know that God had the plan for your life a long time ago. Gods speed, dear friend and may His faithfulness continue to be with you and your family. Trish Pittman RMEW Rocky Mt. NC

      Reply
    • Hi Susie,
      Thank you and the HQ team for praying for me and Lynn. Our journey was certainly unexpected. However God is sufficient and faithful. God is still in the miracle business and answers prayer.

      I just finished Zooming with my son’s class in Dallas. How carefully God and BSF knit us together. This band of brothers prayed for our family and stayed on their knees from January until now.
      Thanking and praising God with them was wonderful. It was like I had known them from grade school.

      Prayer Warriors throughout the BSF community covered our family with prayer giving us strength, endurance, and hope.
      How marvelous, how wonderful God’s family is connected.

      Thank you for your service, leadership, and guidance growing
      the Kingdom at the helm of BSF.
      Lynn and I will be praying for you and your family as you transition to your new purpose in Kansas City.
      Because there is no retirement in the Kingdom.

      God bless you and your family,

      Lynn & Mike McKendrick.

      Reply
  33. Very ppwerful, profound and comforting as we continue going through life, we will experience the unexpected. Thank you

    Reply
  34. It has been an honor and great privilege to be a BSF Leader through the Genesis Study. It was expected that I would lead a class for the first time and I was excited to take on this new endeavor. However It was not expected that I would have to learn to set up, and lead BSF through Zoom meetings. Not being a technology savvy person, it was a monumental feat for me! But through it all, I saw how a group of women whose greatest skill and power came, in their relentless prayers for technology problems to be smoothed out, and despite all the changes that the pandemic forced upon the world, that the BSF would continue and thrive. Amazingly so, it did. I am grateful to have witnessed the Glory of our Sovereign and Unstoppable God’s work in keeping this ministry alive. God has lead us, with His Glory and Might, to accomplish the the expected, in unexpected circumstances, with a positive expected outcome! What a Mighty God we serve! Thank you for all the great leadership for me to learn from in this ministry.

    Reply
  35. Thank you so much Susie for all you have invested in BSF. We must agree that you have cherished , enriched and transformed us spiritually and that is something we are always grateful.

    Enjoy your well earned retirement.
    Blessings to you and your family.

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This