Expectations

Expectations. Hopes.

I have been thinking about expectations and hopes alot lately. We are embarking on something that is unfamiliar to me as we prepare to have our baby home from Ethiopia. And yet, there is familiarity with having a small baby in the house. I’ve done that. Twice.

Our expectations inform our emotions. As a woman, I’ve had lots of expectations. I expected I would marry. I did. I expected I would have children. I did. I expected I would be happy. I am. Is it just by force of my will that these things are accomplished and is it easy? No and No. For example, I expected to have children and that I would LOVE it. Well, after a longer period of time than I expected, I had Ruth. I was 30, which is not too old, but it’s not really young either. I expected that it was going to be wonderful. Ruth was colicky (as a result of GERD) and I was hormonal and old :). I mean, what was I thinking!!?? Wasn’t our life fine without children??!! In fact, wasn’t it better?? These were some of the questions rocketing around in my brain. Because I wasn’t expecting to feel that way, I began to feel even worse. Thankfully, it didn’t last long and I learned some big lessons in thankfulness to God. I wonder if someone had warned me or if I could’ve had a glimpse of myself in the future what my feelings would’ve been. With more informed or accurate expectations, I would not be set up for such a great fall. Hmmm… I don’t know. The adjustment with Daniel was much easier.

But I have some other opinions about all of that too. I believe that I was being exposed to my self-absorption in ways I had never been before. My time was no longer my time. Argh. What really was happening was that God was allowing me to see my sin of pride and self-sufficiency. So my expectations needed to be brought into sync with sin and reality! And I needed to do some serious repenting and praying and praising and thanksgiving!

Earlier I said that expectations inform our emotions. I do believe that’s true. We put our hopes and faith into our expectations. But what are our expectations based on? History? Our life so far? Someone else’s promises? Wishful thinking? Good old elbow grease and hard work? Pessimism? Optimism? An eternal perspective? There is so much that goes on in these heads and hearts of ours! Should we lower our expectations so reality brings happiness when things turn out better? Of course not (though I have done it before). We need to align our expectations with scripture and with God. That doesn’t mean we think of the outcome we want and then hit the concordance with a plan of how to get it. We need to want what God wants and our expectations will change. We can’t be afraid to face the definites in life and death.

Scripture speaks to us in this matter. What does the Bible say that I can expect? When God says it, we can take it to the bank!

First of all – God is the foundation and sustainer of all of our expectations that find their source in Him. He is sovereign and omnipotent and intensly intimate in our lives. Do our expectations line up with the following scriptures?

Romans 8:28 “all things work together for good for those that love God and are the called according to his purpose.”

II Peter 1:3-5″His divine power has given us all things for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”

II Peter 3:9-13″The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”

Philippians 1:19-22″for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me.”

II Timothy 3:10-16 “You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”

Ephesians 5:13-17 “But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead,and Christ will shine on you.” Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” I remember my wise friend, Kim, saying ‘How much more evil do the days have to be before we start redeeming the time?’

Acts 17:30-31 “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
These are just a few scriptures that show me that we are not promised health, wealth and prosperity. If I am expecting health, wealth, and prosperity (because it is a popular teaching now), I am set up for disappointment, at best. These scriptures in fact are clearly saying the opposite, but that as we expect the right things and trust in God, joy comes. We can be joyful in all circumstances because of the grace and mercy of God. We have to live in the gospel.
Listen to Paul in II Corinthians 1:17-22…
“Do I make my plans according to the flesh, ready to say “Yes, yes” and “No, no” at the same time? As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been Yes and No. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No, but in him it is always Yes. For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”
And I leave for now with this…
James 1:2-17
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.”
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