Meeting Expectations

In case I haven’t mentioned it recently, I’m a big sports fan. The problem with being a fan is that more often than not, an expectation exists to win, and the truth is, most teams lose a good percent of their games.

Sure, there are the teams like the Alabama University football team that can reel off a good streak, but when they lose the “big game,” the expectations of the fans are dashed. Or how about the Dodgers’ baseball? They held something like a 20 game lead in their division, clinched a playoff spot before any other team, and still didn’t even make it to the World Series.

Never mind all the mid-tier teams that probably have no realistic shot of even making the playoffs. Like my Denver Broncos in the NFL. When the season started, I expected them to be pretty good. And they are. But they have lost 4 games in the final minute of play, once by not scoring and 3 times by allowing the other teams to score. Four loses in football are highly significant. A team that is 8-4 in December has a legitimate chance at a playoff spot. But the Broncos are languishing at 4-8 instead. My expectations for the team aren’t being fulfilled.

But that’s really life. There aren’t a lot of times that our expectations in life are all met. Something tends to gum up the works. It might be a transfer from a comfortable location to one that is far from family. It might be a promotion that went to someone else, or a love interest that did not reciprocate the feelings. It might be a leaky pipe that requires hours of plumber work. It could be as disastrous as a tornado or blizzard or wild fire. I’ve heard people who lost their homes saying things like, Yes, this was our dream home and now it’s gone.

Or how about illness or injury? Or a son or daughter who doesn’t like the same stuff you love. You want to share your passion with them, but they just don’t care. Then there are new pastors who don’t handle the job the way we thought a pastor would, or should.

What about the program you worked hours and hours on, practicing, preparing, and the night of the big performance, the mic doesn’t work properly and no one can hear what the performers say.

I could go on and on. I probably have too long already. I think it’s pretty clear that all of us, in whatever walk of life, are acquainted with unmet expectations.

I can only think of one instance in which we are never let down. That’s spiritually. Jesus Christ never lets us down.

Oh, sure, people might expect the wrong things from Him. They might expect that He answer their prayer the way they want and according to their timetable. Well, in that case, they can just put “answered prayer” in the column of unmet expectation. God doesn’t operate according to our dictates. He doesn’t take orders from us, because quite clearly He’s the one in charge. And He works stuff out for our spiritual good.

Our spiritual good is not necessarily the same as our physical good. I think of the Christians who left such strong witnesses by their suffering and even their deaths, and I know that the “momentary, light affliction” of this life is in no way comparable to the eternal weight of glory we will experience through God’s work in our lives.

It’s like putting temporary on one side of the scales and eternal on the other side and seeing which weighs more. Yeah, not even close. The scales tip so drastically toward the eternal, that it’s not even a contest.

So when something in the temporary doesn’t meet expectations, but all things in the eternal always meet expectations, how are we to react?

Honestly, if we were looking at the whole picture, we’d see how silly frustration or disappointment over the temporary actually is. It’s a lot like not doing well in practice. We might try hard, but if we come up short, what have we lost? Maybe a start in the big game, maybe even a chance to play at all. But what have we actually lost? Our poor play in practice did not hurt the team, and it might have actually taught me what I need to know for the game. It might actually be for my good.

Shocking, I know. But that’s actually how God works with us in life. We might face failed expectations and have to endure suffering or hardship. But the experience will never be wasted. God will use it to prep us for eternity. He might even use it in the here and now: like He did for Corrie ten Boom or Elisabeth Elliot or Joni Eareckson Tada. Suffering and hardship in the here and now, but astounding accomplishment and success in the here and now, also.

But even that success is spiritual. I mean, any number of lives have turned to Christ because of the witness of people like these three, or like Greg Laurie who lost his son, but not his faith in the goodness of God.

So in among all the disappointed expectations, we will never see our faithful God fail us or forsake us. But who is “us”? Any and all who believe in the name of His Son, the promised Messiah, the Christ, who takes away the sins of the world. We can go to the spiritual bank with the capital of His shed blood, and we will be spiritual millionaires.

Published in: on December 2, 2019 at 5:14 pm  Comments (7)  
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7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. “He doesn’t take orders from us, because quite clearly He’s the one in charge.” So good. So true. So comforting, and hard .. at the same time.

    BTW, Greg Lorry is actually Greg Laurie. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the encouragement, Amy. Also for the help with spelling Greg’s last name. Corrected now, thanks to you! 🙂

      Becky

      Like

  2. So in among all the disappointed expectations, we will never see our faithful God fail us or forsake us.

    Didn’t the character, Jesus of Nazareth say:

    34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.

    So that was one unfulfilled expectation.

    And as for the character,Paul:
    There are several passages which indicate he expected the imminent return of Jesus, certainly within his lifetime.

    There are probably plenty of verses/passages which qualified scholars could identify.

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    • Context, Ark. I’ll explain more tomorrow when I have time, but there are context clues that let us know “generation” doesn’t mean precisely how we define it today. The word has many for meanings than “the people who all lived during a certain time period.” And the context helps us discover that meaning. As do other things Jesus said, such as the fact that no one would know the day or the hour of his coming back.

      Not sure why you think Paul was expecting Christ’s imminent return any more than any other group of followers down through the ages. We all think, it might be today. Or we could, if we don’t. I’ll admit, I don’t think about His return every day. But I know it’s coming. I’m just not sure if I’ll be one who sees it this side of heaven. Doesn’t really matter. God’s timing is as good as He is. He won’t be late.

      Becky

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      • Ah, the old ”context” defense.
        The hand waving piece of disengenuity you Christians always run to when you refuse to see the trees for the wood.

        Biblical Genocide: Context
        Slavery: Context.
        Murder: Context.

        It is so passe….

        Like

        • How very postmodern of you, Årk, that you want to divorce words from their meaning.

          I guess I’ll spare the time I planned to use to explain the passage. Too bad. I think the question is legitimate, but clearly you don’t really want to know what Jesus was talking about. You just want a place you can point to in the Bible and claim that God didn’t do what He said. Well, your misunderstanding of it doesn’t mean that God is not faithful. In fact there’s a verse about that in the Bible, too. “What then? If some did not believe, there unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it? May it never be. (Romans 3, somewhere around verse 4).

          Becky

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          • Nothing in my reply above is out of context.
            Christians just don’t like that the truth.

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