We all have expectations.
These expectations are directed toward three "groups".
Ourselves - We expect ourselves to behave a certain way, achieve specific benchmarks, and accomplish certain goals.
Others- We expect others to act in a way that makes sense to us, to behave and think like we would (Oh, wouldn't the world be a better place if they did... well, not quite).
God- We expect God to fulfill His promises (This is a right expectation), but we often expect him to act and think as we would and in a way that makes sense to us. But our expectations don't stop there. We also believe (sometimes without full realization) that if we live the "right way", then God is obligated to see to it that our life goes well, that is, according to our expectations.
Though it may be hard to admit it and it may take some reflection to identify and understand them, we all to some degree have developed these expectations of others, ourselves, and God.
Because these expectations are not met perfectly all the time (I wish), we experience disappointment in different degrees, towards ourselves, people, or God.
More often then not, we believe this disappointment to be justified, we think that our expectations were good and right and thus when they are not met, we are justified in being disappointed and perhaps even angry.
At the time, we believe this disappointment to be directed at the other party who let us down or wronged us, but we ultimately come to two conclusions if we reflect further on this disappointment.
The first error in our thinking, is believing that God did not prevent the situation in which I experienced hurt, and thus His power is not sufficient to fulfill what would be ideal for me.
The second error in our thinking is when we experience anger or disappointment towards God because we feel He was obligated to meet our seemingly good expectations, since He could have prevented the situation, but didn't.
We can regard the first response as a lie because we know our God is one who is sovereign over all creation and thus will cause all things to work for Him and His purpose.
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:2
The second response is a direct product of our faulty understanding of what we ought to expect.
As Christians, we can often get caught up in expectations that, on the outside, sound good and even godly; like good relationships, fulfilling work, godly kids, or meaningful family life, etc.
We all hope and perhaps even expect that if we do our part, God will "do His".
Yet, a problem comes when the child who has been brought to church his whole life, went to church camp and even professed Christ from an early age, turns from the faith, resulting in his parent's absolute heartbreak.
Did the parents of that child make a fatal mistake in her upbringing and thus her rejection of the faith could be understood? It's possible but unlikely.
Another scenario is perhaps when a promising career path leads to unexpected difficulty, financially and relationally within the home, creating tension and conflict.
Did the person who followed a promising career path that ultimately leads them into a trial, miss signs that could have led them to make the "right" decision and thus have their expectations of financial security and comfortable family life be met? No, not necessarily, he tried to make the wisest decision possible in terms of career path.
So what happened?
We try to live in a way that glorifies God, we try to please him and we hope that means that we get what we want because that's what God wants... Right?
Was God obligated to meet our expectations?
The hard truth is that, in some situations, God does not fulfill our expectation so that He may bring himself glory by bringing our broken and hurt hearts to the only place that they may find rest. That we may experience true joy being released from our expectations and in pursuit of His glory.
Can Real Hope be found?
Yes, but first we have to let go of our expectations that are hindering us from embracing God's good and sovereign plan. Do we pray that the child who has abandoned the faith will come home as the prodigal child, yes, but our hope is not based solely on needing this to occur? Instead, our home ought to reside in a lasting hope that through our disappointment, God will reach into the depths of our being and let us experience his presence and glory in our lives, to experience real joy.
It is one thing to understand this idea and it is another to let go of the burden of expectation. When we do, we will experience a freedom in Christ we have never experienced before.
"Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you." -Psalm 55:22a
As we try to understand and embrace God's plan, we must focus our expectations on God doing what is best for us. We can expect this! He will always do what is best for us.
However, though we know this to be true we still have expectations in life that go unfulfilled and thus we will experience disappointment.
My encouragement to you is to let these disappointments draw you close to the One who knows what is best. Furthermore, that we would let go of our expectations, however good they may be and embrace God's BETTER plan for our lives.
In this quest, we can find REAL HOPE despite the disappointment, a HOPE that is not contingent on a comfortable resolution but instead, a REAL HOPE based on an utter dependency on Christ's sufficiency to fulfill His purposes in our lives!
Song of the Week - I Won't Let You Go feat. Lauren Daigle