Every year the Merriam-Webster’s dictionary chooses a word of the year. In 2016 that word was “surreal.” They chose “surreal” because it was looked up significantly more frequently in 2016 than in previous years, and because there were multiple occasions on which “surreal” was the one word clearly driving people to their dictionary. In March, surreal was used in coverage of the Brussels terror attacks. Then, in July, it spiked again in descriptions of the coup attempt in Turkey and in coverage of the terrorist attack in Nice. Finally, in November was the largest increase in lookups for surreal following the U.S. presidential election.
Surreal is defined as something “marked by the intense irrational reality of a dream.” In other words, it means something unbelievable and fantastic. It might surprise you to learn that it was only first included in the dictionary in 1967 even though the idea has been around since the 1930s.
Think about this for a moment. Our world may believe that the terrorist attacks or unexpected result of the presidential election are surreal, but just because we can’t fully believe or understand those things doesn’t mean they aren’t real. God has a plan that He is working out. We don’t always understand it. Why God allows evil has puzzled humans for centuries. Why God chooses one person over another isn’t imminently clear either. But just because we know so little about God’s ways we shouldn’t call them surreal. We just can’t comprehend the whole picture of what He’s doing.
The prophet Isaiah quotes the Lord as saying: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, Neither are your ways my ways” declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8,9).
So when you think things are getting a little too surreal, remember, God is in control. You may not understand what He’s doing, but you can trust Him.