A quote commonly misattributed to Shakespeare goes like this: “Expectation is the root of all heartache.” One attributed to Rogienel Reyes says, “Assuming is the root of all disappointments.” A couple of Sundays ago, Jurie shared his heart with 5twelve City Church. Where we are is not where we aim to be, and while we have many victories in our short history as a church, we’ve had setbacks too.
A while back, he preached a sermon titled, “Still here, but not there yet.” The word “yet” implies an expectation of greater things to come.
Today, I just want to share some thoughts I have around the nature of hope, expectation, and disappointment. We are entering the season of the year when people talk about hope… we even have a sermon series leading up to Christmas, titled “Gifting Hope; More than a Wish.”
The Bible has a lot to say about hope and expectation.
The law of the Lord is perfect,Psalm 19:7, NIV
refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
My soul, wait silently for God alone,Psalm 62:5, NKJV
For my expectation is from Him.
20 For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. 21 Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, 22 who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.2 Corinthians 1:20-22, NKJV
All these verses point to a God who fulfills His promises. He has laid down His life and sent His Spirit as a guarantee. Guarantees are supposed to give people confidence, right?
But sometimes, I think we expect God to do things our way and in our own timing. Jesus was the fulfillment of all the promises made to Israel, but because His method wasn’t what the people expected, they crucified Him. God promises healing, but if I don’t feel 100% better after a day of praying, I get frustrated… disappointed. We want God to fulfill His promises to us right now. We sing, “Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord” (from “Everlasting God” by Brown & Riley), but in our daily lives, waiting is not our preferred mode of being.
Consider what Peter said about our waiting for the Lord:
9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.2 Peter 3:9, NIV
Just as we tend to have inaccurate expectations of how and when God will fulfill His promises, we also have unrealistic expectations of the people around us, and of ourselves. “You’re your own worst critic” is something people often tell me, and it’s something we tell one another when we’re being hard on ourselves.
Without considering how many hours there are in a day, or how many things a friend has to accomplish each day, we may expect more time from them than they can give us. We forget that our friends, our authority figures, and our family have as much going on as we do. We expect more from them than they have, sometimes, and we become disappointed.
On the other hand, we can also develop unrealistically low expectations of people. The “isms” that Jurie described a few weeks ago come to mind.
Do I believe that there are some people for whom these biases or “low expectations” make sense? Sure, every group of people has some bad apples. But when we allow our past experiences or social biases to dictate how we receive people going forward, we drastically limit our own access to the wisdom, grace, and joy that God has built into our lives through our diverse society. We can be disappointed in one another because our high expectations weren’t met, but we’re often disappointed because our low expectations were met, not because the person intended harm, but because we interpreted them through a clogged filter.
So what am I getting at? A while back, we talked about the Covey quote, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” When it comes to our expectations of one another, let’s first seek to understand each other’s circumstances and filters, before we place any expectations on one another.
19 So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; 20 for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.James 1:19-20, NKJV
When it comes to our expectations of God, let’s remember:
25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.1 Corinthians 1:25, NKJV
He knows what we need before we do, and His timing is best for us, whether we can see it in the moment or not.
He has shown you, O man, what is good;Micah 6:8, NKJV
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?
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