Author Ava Pennington
Author Ava Pennington

Unexpected God

Christmas has always been my favorite season. After all, what’s not to like? But this Christmas season is a bit different, as my celebration is muted because of the loss of someone precious to me.

What about you? It may be difficult for you, or someone you love, to celebrate this year. Burdens of loss, financial pressures, health complications, or depression can build an impenetrable wall, brick by brick, separating you from the joy of the season. And yet, when you least expect it…

God has a way of showing up.

He did it for me last week.

Someone I didn’t know well took me aside at a holiday gathering. She shared how she had suffered from depression most of her life. When she attended my husband’s memorial service this summer, she heard the story of his battle with depression. She also learned how God had healed him—not of his cancer, but of the depression he struggled with for decades.

My pastor closed the memorial service by doing something unexpected. He sensed the Holy Spirit prompting him to pray for the healing of those there who might be suffering from depression.

In her words, “Who goes to a memorial service to be healed of depression?”

Indeed. Who does?

But that day, God showed up unexpectedly. And four months later she took me aside to share how she had not experienced a day of depression since the memorial service.

Two thousand years ago, God also showed up unexpectedly, this time in the life of a teenage girl. He showed up with news delivered by an angel—news that turned her life upside down, and then turned the world upside down. Or maybe a better description would be right side up! Still, the religious leaders of His day failed to see Him because they were convinced God would reveal Himself in a different way. They refused to consider the possibility that God might be moving in another direction.

God is still showing up unexpectedly. But if we’re laser-focused on what we’ve decided He should do, we’ll miss the work He wants to do in and through us.

Like my husband, you might be praying for healing in one area, only to learn God is at work in another area of your life.

Trust your heavenly Father to wrap you in His grace and surround you with His peace. Then trust Him to work sovereignly to fulfill His perfect purposes. You just might find He will give you what you need, when you need it.


Receive Ava’s weekly blog
posts & occasional 
newsletters in your inbox!

Search by category:

You May Also Like

Isolation or Insulation?

Isolation or Insulation?

Isolation or Insulation?   Isolate yourself from our worldly culture. Insulate yourself from worldly influences....


  1. Dianna Cone

    What a wonderful story! I have experienced great loss and understand how that first Christmas can feel without them. I haven’t experienced depression but love to here when God shows up this way. May you have a blessed Christmas this year!

  2. Joyce

    Well said, as always, good and faithful writer.

  3. Ava Pennington

    Thank you, Dianna. And to you, too!

  4. Ava Pennington

    Thank you for your encouragement, Joyce.

  5. Ellen Snyder

    Thank you for sharing how God is using your sadness and your husband’s legacy to help bind up the broken hearted (including you.)

    We lost my dad over a decade ago in early December and my mom 2 years ago around Easter. Holidays are always poignant, but I do take comfort in the time we had and look forward to being together again for Eternity with our Lord.

  6. Ava Pennington

    I’m so sorry for your loss, Ellen.
    Yes, knowing we will be reunited with our loved ones brings powerful comfort, doesn’t it?!

  7. Pam Walsh

    Ava this is an amazing story about how God is working when we don’t see it. Behind the scenes of our daily lives he is working all for good. Thank you for sharing this. And peace be with you as I know this year is hard for you. Merry Christmas

  8. Ava Pennington

    Thank you, Pam. Yes, He is always at work!

  9. Janice Green

    This is powerful. I have a friend who lost her daughter to cancer a year ago. I want to share this with her.

  10. Ava Pennington

    Thank you, Janice. I pray she will find it helpful.

  11. Lucille

    Once again THANK YOU Ava ❤️❤️❤️ !!!!

  12. Jackie Oxendine

    Wonderfully said Ava. I am already finding great comfort in hearing from relatives and friends, just in this short time, how my husband’s homegoing celebration touched their heart in a way only God could have. So thankful for what God is doing through you and so very grateful for the spiritual connection we share. I love you Ava.

  13. Ava Pennington

    Thank you, Jackie.
    Sad that we have to share this journey, but grateful for how God has knit our hearts together and for how He is at work in both our situations.

Submit a Comment

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

I accept the Privacy Policy

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.