Expect the unexpected

By Denise Seibert Townsend

Catholic Charities

Expect the unexpected.

Throughout our lives, we learn to expect the unexpected. In the Bible, we are provided many examples of how God taught us to expect the unexpected. We plan and prepare for the unexpected.

Here is one scripture that reminds us of the importance of remaining faithful as we are faced with the unexpected:

“While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening to the word of God, he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret. He saw two boats there alongside the lake; the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, he asked him to put out a short distance from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.’ Simon said in reply, ‘Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.’ When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish and their nets were tearing. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come to help them. They came and filled both boats so that they were in danger of sinking. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, ‘Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.’ For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him and all those with him, and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners of Simon. Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.’ When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him” (Luke 5:1-11).

As I reflect on this scripture, I think about how difficult it would have been for the fishermen to leave their boats behind. These boats, and fishing, were their livelihoods. For many of these fishermen, I would assume that this is the only lifestyle they had known. Then, I think about how these disciples put their complete trust in Jesus to follow Him into this unknown future. I assume the disciples sometimes wondered if they made the right decision to follow Jesus; yet, they remained faithful and continued to follow Jesus and learn from Him.

Today, I think about how we feel when our lives suddenly and drastically change when we least expect it. Sometimes, the unexpected can bring great joy – meeting the person you eventually marry; the introduction of someone who becomes a new friend; and many other happy moments.

Yet, there are times when a person may be challenged by the unexpected loss of a job; an illness; an accident; the death of a loved one; or a natural disaster. These experiences can leave a person feeling alone, isolated, numb and uncertain.  In these situations, it can be challenging to remain faithful and trusting in God. Yet, when we remain faithful, we have more confidence that we can overcome these challenges.

Through our work at Catholic Charities, I also believe that we can help families faced with their own unexpected challenges. We provided hope to the single woman raising her six-year-old grandson. For a period of time, her hours at work were reduced, resulting in a loss of income. It only took a couple paychecks with the reduced hours for her to fall behind on her rent. She reached out to Catholic Charities for assistance in her time of need.  Shortly after receiving assistance, her work hours were restored, resulting in more income. With help from Catholic Charities, she was able to maintain stable housing for her and her grandson and continue working.

When a man was feeling depressed and alone after his wife passed away, he contacted Catholic Charities for counseling services. When he initially contacted Catholic Charities, he said he felt hopeless and helpless. With guidance and support, this man learned how to manage his feelings. He now gardens, walks daily and participates in a men’s club at his church. He has hope for the future.

As you face your own unexpected challenges, I encourage you to remain faithful and remember that Catholic Charities is a resource to provide support and hope for the future.