Expectations- they can be one of the most dangerous and debilitating threats to our joy in the Lord. We all have “shoulds” in our minds; things we think should happen to us and things we think we should not have to experience. Whether we realize it or not, we can all be rather entitled, dreaming up expectations designed for our own benefit and comfort.
If everything goes the way it “should” in our minds and aligns with all our expectations, then we’re happy and fulfilled. But the problem is that when we place our hope in “shoulds”, which are essentially idols of our own making, we often experience struggle in our relationship with God. This is especially the case when we face an unexpected difficulty, a withheld desire, or a day full of mishaps and “interruptions”.
The Bible speaks often about idols as being anything “made by human hands”, things that are lifeless, things that are hollow objects in which to place our hope. Psalm 115:4,8 says that “those who make [idols] will be like them, and so will all who trust in them”. Our expectations of how certain circumstances should play out in our lives can quickly turn into idols. Suddenly, God giving us the “right” outcome to all our hopes and dreams becomes more important to us than knowing God Himself. When our expectations remain unmet, we start asking, Doesn’t He love me? Why does this day/season/circumstance have to be so hard?
The thing is, the expectation that we “should” be happy at all times and that our circumstances should always line up with our desires only leads to disappointment because it is based solely on the pull of fallen and selfish human desire, rather than on the rock of biblical truth. But what is truth? How should we view the frustrating circumstances, troubles, and disappointments we experience in the face of unmet expectations? That is what we will study today!
3 Ways God’s Truth can Guard Us from Disappointment
1. Being a Christian doesn’t mean we have been promised an easy life or an exemption to hardship; it means we have been promised an Advocate, Friend, and Helper through it.
Many people hold to the mistaken idea that when you come to Christ you are being promised a life of ease, health, wealth, and prosperity. But this is not at all the case. We believers still live in the same fallen, sin-cursed world as everybody else, which means we will still face hardship. The good news, however, and what makes all the difference, is this promise from Jesus: “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
2. It’s ultimately for our good.
What we have to do in order to willingly surrender our own expectations and desires is remember that we only see the here-and-now, whereas God sees the big picture. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” And that “all things” refers to each and every unmet expectation you have in your life right now or will ever have. I love how Tim Keller put it – “God will only give you what you would have asked for if you knew everything He knows”.
3. God loves us no matter what.
When life is hard and we aren’t getting what we want (and everything we don’t!), if we buy into the modern-day false definition of love, we can begin to assume that maybe God doesn’t love us after all. This is where Romans 8:35-39 comes in! “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: ‘For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.’ Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
While we haven’t been promised an easy life in this fallen world, the beautiful truth is that it won’t be like this forever. Revelation 21:4 says, “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Even in this fallen world God is working everything together for our good. And, not only that, but we won’t be living in a fallen world forever. Let those truths sink down deep into your heart and guard it from disappointment and discontentment today.