God’s Beautiful Surprises
Keep noticing how often the Lord blesses you.
by Sophie Hudson
NOW I WON’T PRESUME to speak for the group, but I think — for most of us, at least — that when we consider what we’re thankful for, we land on the big stuff first. We’re thankful for our families, our health, our homes, our churches, our country. And we should be thankful for those things; the Lord extends some of His greatest kindnesses through those areas of our lives.
The older I get, however, the more grateful I am for the myriad ways the Lord shows Himself faithful in the smaller things, for how He may even surprise us in the day-to-day.
A couple of years ago, after speaking at a women’s event in Texas one weekend, I flew out of Dallas to head home to Birmingham. We had a stop first in Houston. When it comes to flying preferences, I’m a window seat person, and as we made our descent into Houston, I cracked open my window shade to get a look at the ground. A light coating of white covered the landscape in every direction — a surreal sight considering the typical Texas landscape. As we touched down, I pulled out my phone and checked my texts from a few friends who knew I was headed back to Birmingham and wanted to make sure I knew to drive slowly and safely after I got home. According to them, at least, our Magic City was quite the winter wonderland.
My second flight took off right on time, and when I finally saw Birmingham from the air, I got all up in my feels, as the kids would say. If Houston was coated in snow, then Birmingham had been blanketed. And to my eyes, she had never looked more beautiful. Since there was no ice on the ground, we landed with no issues at all, and after I picked up my bag, I walked in the direction of the parking garage.
The air was brisk but damp — heavy, almost — and after I made it to my car in 5C, I stared at my beloved Birmingham skyline off in the distance. The gray haze cloaked the sky, the clouds hung low, and our city’s tallest buildings blended into the horizon almost like camouflage.
I couldn’t get over how gorgeous it all was.
I drove home — slowly — with my radio turned down low. I had never seen Birmingham look quite so lovely, and around every curve, at the crest of every hill, after every turn, I no doubt sounded like an ice dancing commentator who was utterly carried away with the gracefulness of a performance.
“Well, that is stunning.”
“THIS. IS. FANTASTIC.”
And then, “Oh, Lord, we needed this.”
For some reason that day makes me think of a Bible story I love, a story of a woman named Naomi who had a rough go of it for more than a few years. Naomi moved to a foreign country in a pretty broken state — her husband dead, her sons dead. All that loss had taken a toll. Her daughter-in-law, Ruth, was faithful to care for her, but life wasn’t easy for them.
Naomi, to her credit, never gave up. She helped Ruth find a way to provide for them, teaching her about Judean culture. Naomi explained how Ruth could pursue redemption for her widowhood.
Naomi kept showing up; she kept standing up for her daughter-in-law. She kept hoping in the midst of heartache.
And at the end of the Book of Ruth, the redemption of Naomi’s family was secured by Ruth’s marriage to Boaz and the subsequent birth of their baby. After all the disappointment and loss and pain, there was new life.
The baby’s name was Obed. He was an unexpected, undeserved grace to Naomi’s family at the end of a hard time.
And I guess that’s what I want to tell you.
Sometimes life is weird. Sometimes, for reasons we don’t fully understand, it’s so much harder than we expect. Maybe you feel like you’re missing out on something with the people you love most, or maybe life feels like one heartbreaking loss after another.
Feel free to insert your own specific set of circumstances.
But here’s what I’ve learned — and here’s where Naomi’s story is such a good reminder. In the middle of all of those things — or in the middle of even worse things — something beautiful will surprise you. Something beautiful will be the grace of God when you’re in a tough stretch.
And on a day when you expect it the least but just might need it the most, that beauty — well, it will move you a little further forward. And it will be enough.
That right there is cause for some serious thanksgiving.
So, keep showing up. Keep standing up. Keep noticing how often the Lord blesses you with something unexpectedly beautiful. Because you don’t want to miss it.
You really don’t.
Sophie Hudson loves to laugh. She began writing her blog, BooMama, in November 2005, and she hopes that through her stories, women find encouragement and hope in the everyday, joy-filled moments of life. In addition to her blog, Sophie speaks regularly to groups across the country and co-hosts The Big Boo Cast. The author of four books, she enjoys cheering like crazy at pretty much any live sporting event and also considers herself a Netflix overachiever. She lives with her husband and son in Birmingham, Alabama.
This article originally appeared in HomeLife magazine (October 2020). For more articles like this, subscribe to HomeLife.
Leave a Reply