I put on righteousness, and it clothed me;
my justice was like a robe and a turban.
I was eyes to the blind
and feet to the lame.
I was a father to the needy,
and I searched out the cause of him whom I did not know.
I broke the fangs of the unrighteous
and made him drop his prey from his teeth.
Then I thought, ‘I shall die in my nest,
and I shall multiply my days as the sand,
my roots spread out to the waters,
with the dew all night on my branches,
my glory fresh with me,
and my bow ever new in my hand.’
Unmet expectations. That was the very first thing that came to my mind after reading this passage from Job. Having an idea in our minds of how our lives are going to be and how everything is going to pan out, only to have the rug pulled from under our feet. Unfulfilled expectations can be devastating. They can leave us bitter, angry, and without hope. Have you ever dealt with unmet expectations? Maybe with a spouse, relationship, job, or…dare I say, with God?
“Unmet expectations are tough when it’s your wife or your husband, but it’s really tough when it’s God. And yet, it can be a time of growth and a time of faith, a time of understanding who God is.” -Max Lucado
I consider myself a ‘late bloomer’. I heard that term on a podcast recently and could immediately relate. Yep, that’s me. At almost 40 years old, I feel like I’m finally figuring out how to surrender and allow God’s will to take form in my life. Which means for almost 40 years, I just didn’t get it. In fact, for almost 40 years, I was not seeking His direction but was instead paving my own path, desperately praying that God would bless it. I thought I knew what I wanted. I had a vision for my life, and I wholeheartedly expected God to get on board with my vision.
Would it surprise you if I said that He didn’t and that those things I thought I wanted never panned out? No matter how hard I tried to force them, all those expectations I had did not come to fruition. The disappointment that followed has been some of the hardest feelings I’ve had to work through in my relationship with the Lord.
Proverbs 13:12 says hope deferred makes the heart sick…and it’s so true! When we hopefully expect something and it does not happen or it’s delayed, our hearts grow weary.
So, what are some reasons we end up with unmet expectations? Here are five that I have personally struggled with!
- We base our expectations for our future on our past. Job also fell victim to this. He had always lived a blessed life and so he assumed he always would.
- We make up our minds about what we want THEN PRAY that God will bless what WE want. Oh, boy! This was seriously the story of my life! I did not seek God’s will but instead ran hard after my own. Sometimes we forget that God’s plan actually exceeds our plan!
- We convince ourselves that God must work in a certain way. First we make assumptions and then we expect certain things from God. Yep, been there. Done that.
- We focus too much on the physical and forget the spiritual. Spiritual? Spiritual what? This is not something I’m proud to admit, but I’ve definitely had tunnel vision. I’ve been so focused on the physical world around me that I didn’t even consider the spiritual growth that God was trying to do within me. Often times, our finite, selfish expectations are not met so that spiritual growth can take place. We must remember that our spiritual growth is always most important to God.
- We base our expectations on our own wisdom, self-righteousness, or the stability of earthly things instead of being faithfully rooted in the promises of God. Having expectations that are rooted in the promises of God is a GOOD thing! That is where our hope comes from. It is only when our expectations are dependent on our own wisdom, our own ‘goodness’, or physical ‘things’ that we get into trouble.
Friend, when our reality doesn’t match our vision or expectation, it is easy to become bitter and disappointed towards God. It’s even easy to live years in this state! One of the greatest causes of frustration and bitterness in a Christian’s life is when things don’t work out like we envisioned. As hard as it is, we must remember that seasons of unmet expectations can be a time of growth and a time of faith, a time of understanding who God is. It can be the very thing that bridges the gap between knowing about God and actually experiencing Him in our lives.
After everything Job suffered, after all those expectations he had for his life were stripped from him, he responded to God…
I had heard reports about You, but now my eyes have seen You. Job 42:5
I am so thankful for every unmet expectation in my life, for the way God has molded me as I navigated those disappointments, and for how God has blessed me with things I didn’t even know I wanted…instead of all those things that I once expected. I went from knowing about Him to my eyes now seeing Him, but it took letting go of my own expectations and finally embracing His.
Digging Deeper: Right now, what expectations do you have for your life? What are they rooted in…faith in God’s promises or your own wisdom? Can you think of unmet expectations in your life that you are now grateful for?
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