Here’s what I want to talk about today. It’s one word that holds a lot of weight. And, that word is this: Expectation.
If you’ve followed my blog long enough, you know that whenever I mention a particular subject, I love to give the dictionary definition of that word, so here it is.
(n). a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future
From the moment we are kids, we have expectations for what our lives will look like. From fairy tale stories to the aspirational lives of those we meet or simply admire from a screen, we begin to form our own expectation of what our future should look like. And, that’s the danger of the human imagination. Because, though it is such a good thing to dream, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without those seeds that were planted in me long ago, the danger is when life doesn’t turn out like we had expected it to. Which, I think, for most of us, is quite true to our circumstances.
So, does this mean that we should give up on every dream or expectation that we hold for the future? Not entirely. But, I do believe that we must surrender daily every expectation, so that we may experience the life God has planned for us.
Because expectation is a very strong belief, when it is not met, it brings about a very strong feeling of disappointment. Disappointment is a let down, a let down in either ourselves or in other people, a feeling that arises from our plans not going accordingly, where pain visits and re-visits, making us wonder what is it that we are doing wrong. Questions arise. Is God really present in all of this? Why does suffering exist? Are our prayers even worth our breath? We ask ourselves these questions when our own expectations are drowned out by the difficulty of our circumstances.
But, what I have learned as my life has ended up in situations that I never thought I’d be in is that God is still good in it all. Even when we wonder if He hears our prayers when disappointment comes knocking at our door again, we must remind ourselves of this truth:
“Am I going to let my circumstances determine my view of God or am I going to let God determine how I view my circumstances?” -Lisa Harper
Through it all, our expectations cannot be placed in our own idea of what comes next, but instead, our expectations must be placed in the hope of who God is. Though I do not know what comes next and though my expectations may be different from my reality, I do know that God is walking with me and that truth, even on very difficult days, brings comfort and joy that reminds me:
“but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” -John 4:14
This has been my go to verse lately. It has also made me realize that when our expectations are placed at the feet of Jesus, we can find true rest and satisfaction in Him. If we truly believe that our lives are not on our own, if we are truly bought out to the purpose and mission of Jesus Christ, then when are expectations are not met, we can look at it through the lens of God and say, “Okay, God. I’m still going to trust you even though it doesn’t make sense right now. I choose to place my hope in You, and in that which I cannot see.”
When did we start making the Christian life all about us? Sometimes, we pray, “Not my will, but Yours be done,” and then we whisper, “But, God, you know what I can’t handle…” and proceed to bargain with God. We pray for things and when those answers aren’t met, we get upset (like toddlers who don’t understand why their parents are holding “good things” from them.) Maybe, that’s a little harsh, but listen to me on this. I promise there’s a point to all of this that I’m trying to get across, because it took some refining in my own life for me to realize how selfish my own expectations in my life had become. God will always be with us through trials and tribulations. It’s how we respond that makes the difference. Of course, it is okay to express our hurt+frustration, but we must release those worries and disappointments into the hands of our Creator. Our simple response is to trust+obey. Because, the person who you are becoming is so much more important than the person you were before you walked through the fire. We are being refined, and that my friend, is why our “not met expectations” are worth it.
Here’s a couple quotes that can help drive this point home.
“God is more interested in your character than your comfort. God is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life happy.” -Rick Warren
“Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you will get neither.” -C.S. Lewis
We must let our expectations for our lives be shaped by God. Matthew 6:33 states, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all other things will be added unto you.”
This isn’t a pretty verse that was given to us so that we find assurance in the fact that if we seek God first, all our prayers will be answered. The context of this verse is given so that we may find Christ and with Him, everything else. Even when your expectations aren’t met, even when your idea of comfort and a white picket fence isn’t given, remember that God is far more interested in your character, in you and I becoming disciples who think less of ourselves and become consumed, instead, by God’s expectations for us. And, yes, somewhere, along the way, we will find that God’s dreams are far greater than anything we could dream up on our own. So, let go of your own expectations and let God become your “more than enough” in your today and every day from here on.