I had expected to have this blog ready by the first of February, but as you see… we have passed Groundhog’s Day, almost to Valentine’s Day!
I’ve been thinking a lot about expectations. Are they good or bad? When I don’t fulfill my own expectations, I feel disappointed in myself. Do you? How about when others don’t meet expectations?
Is it good to have expectations or not? I’d really like some feedback on this.
Do expectations reveal trust or do they perhaps reveal the absence of trust?
The first definition for trust in my Merriam-Webster dictionary is: “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.”
An ideal example of trust is Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane praying for the “cup” to be removed from him. He knew he faced the cross with its horrors and the sin and guilt of the whole world would be placed on his shoulders. He was true man, having “emptied himself,” (Philippians 2:7) of his divine powers when he came to earth. Therefore, his task must have seemed nearly impossible to carry out.
Yet, he said to his Father in complete trust, “Not my will, but Thine be done,” (Mk. 14:32-36, NIV). How could he trust like that? Because he knew his Father. He knew:
his character was love and faithfulness,
he was all wise (omniscient),
his strength was limitless (omnipotence),
and he knew the truth that his Father would do what was right.
Jesus expected God to do what was right, and his expectations were not disappointed. He rose from the dead, after completing his life’s work of salvation, and now lives in Heaven interceding for us.
We can trust Jesus because he obediently went to the cross and carried that burden; thus we know he will act in love in our lives.
Here’s a link to a wonderful song about that idea: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_Q5fqBZYOY)
Expectations often bring pain. I’ve heard people say, “I shouldn’t have expectations. Then I wouldn’t get hurt.” Once, I talked to a counselor about how someone was treating me. After grumbling and complaining a bit, I agreed with him that “It all comes down to expectations, doesn’t it?”
What if we had no expectations? The painful things that come into our lives would probably still hurt, but if we didn’t expect our lives to be all rosy, would they hurt as much? For instance, it doesn’t hurt us if a stranger ignores us, because we don’t expect anything from a stranger. But if our adult children ignore us while everyone around us is talking about how close they are with their adult children, that hurts.
Another for instance: If we didn’t receive an award we didn’t apply for, that wouldn’t hurt, would it? We didn’t expect it. But if we hope our submitted manuscripts will sell, rejection letters hurt. A few years ago, I was surprised at the notification that a take-home paper wanted to print a poem of mine which they saw in another periodical. That was a happy surprise. But I wouldn’t have been disappointed if they hadn’t wanted it, because I wouldn’t have expected it.
Yet, it’s not right, either, to be so cynical we don’t expect anything of anyone. That indicates a lack of trust in humans and God, and would be an unhappy way to live.
I suggest we give all our expectations to God. He is faithful and trustworthy. His Word promises, “In everything God works for good for those who love him.” If we see him as in charge of our lives, then we expect him to do what is best in all our circumstances. What should we expect from God?
Expect him to know and do what’s best (like Jesus did). He sees the whole picture, the end from the beginning and we don’t. Trust him to do what’s best.
Expect God to keep his promises:
that those who believe in Jesus Christ have eternal life. (Jn. 3;16)
that If we confess our sins, he will forgive and cleanse us. (I Jn.1:9”
Plus there are many other promises to be found in scripture; we can see if they apply to us and, if we meet the conditions, we can claim them.
Expect God to be God. We don’t have the right to tell him what to do, but he does have the right to tell us what to do because he created us and also redeemed us. How much more contented could we be if we were totally convinced God loves us and is in control? If that’s true, then can we just let go of all expectations except to expect God to do what is best in our lives and to use evil for good? (see Romans 8:28 and Gen. 50:20.) The fact that we don’t understand is beside the point. He understands.
I don’t need to complain about the weather because he knows what is best. Even if it keeps me from going on a certain trip, he knows what is best. As the apostle James says, in making plans it is always better to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will do this or that,” (Jms. 4:15, NIV).
My husband and I watched a Pureflix movie the other night in which the parents were so excited for their new baby. They expected it to be perfect. Yet, the baby was not perfectly formed. He had no eyes and his limbs had some dwarfism. He grew up blind and unable to walk. His father discovered he had a gift for music and taught him piano and trumpet. In High School, he excelled in the band, then in college he learned he had a possibility to be in the marching band. This became a dream of his, but the only way he could do it was if his father would push his wheelchair through the formations. His father had to give up a lot in order to have time to do this, but he did.
Our Father in Heaven gave up a lot to help us achieve our purpose in life. We can trust him with our expectations. Or better yet, we can be content if we don’t expect anything except what he wants to give us and trust what he does give us is what’s best for us.
by Judith Vander Wege, 2/9/2017