I’ve had a lot of expectations for my life. I’m sure you have too. But I’m also guessing, like me… not all your goals and plans have worked out the way you imagined. Not all your expectations have been met.
Growing up in a Christian household, I’ve probably sang the song “I surrender all” about a thousand times, but deep down I know- I haven’t surrendered all. I’ve held onto my future, my desires, and my dreams, with white knuckled fists, believing the lie that my ways are better than Gods ways.
It’s not wrong to have hopes and dreams.
Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.”
God wants us to live in joyful expectation. He wants us to desire to have good things and do good things. Those who don’t dream have lost their passion and their zeal for life. Their hearts are sick.
But what happens when those dreams don’t come true? What happens when those expectations aren’t met?
To answer these questions, let’s look back to Jesus’ coming-the long-awaited arrival of the Messiah that was FULL of great expectations. The Israelites, God’s people, had yearned for this day for many long and weary years. Yet, despite reading and memorizing the prophecies from God about the coming Savior, the expectations the Israelite’s had for Jesus were basically in complete contrast to what God had planned.
As Matthew Henry says in his commentary of the Bible-
“It was expected that his ancestry would be very great and noble. He was to be the Son of David, but he sprang out of this royal and illustrious family when it was reduced and sunk, and Joseph was but a poor carpenter. It was expected that he should make a public entry, and come in pomp with recognition; but instead of that, he grew up before God, not before men.
He grew up like a tender shoot, silently and invisibly as the grain grows up, and we know not how. It was expected that he should have some uncommon beauty in his face and person, which should charm the eye, attract the heart, and raise the expectations of all who saw him. But there was nothing of this kind in him; not that he was deformed or misshapen, but he had no beauty or majesty, nothing extraordinary, which one might have thought to meet in an incarnate deity….His gospel is preached, not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but with all plainness.
It was expected that he should live a pleasant life, which would have invited all sorts to him; but, on the contrary, he was a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. His condition was, on many accounts, sorrowful. He was unsettled, had nowhere to lay his head, lived on alms, was opposed and menaced, and endured the opposition of sinners against himself.”
Jesus didn’t fit into the Israelites Messiah-box. In a way, you could say he didn’t live up to their expectations. He didn’t come with an army. He wasn’t an intense political leader. He wasn’t born into wealth and prestige. He didn’t wear purple robes and a crown.
He was born into an animal’s feeding trough. He was the servant of all. He was a man of sorrows. He forgave when he shouldn’t have and loved when it was impossible. He performed miracles for the unclean and the undeserving, and the height of his ministry was death.
Not the Messiah the Israelite’s had hoped for, dreamed of, and expected, but the Messiah we all desperately needed.
Like the Israelites, you and I have hopes too. But God’s plans outweigh them. We have ideals and dreams, but HIS ways surpass them. We have great expectations, but God exceeds them. Not the way we might imagine. But the way that is perfect for us.
Just listen to these promises found in God’s word….
” For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” -Jeremiah 29:11
“I am convinced and confident of this very thing, that He who has began a good work in you will be faithful to perfect and complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 1:6
“Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off. “
“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 4:19
When I was a kid, and my family went on road-trips, I didn’t question what route my Dad took. I wasn’t confused when he got off the interstate, I didn’t freak out when he started driving slower, or going faster. It wasn’t up to me whether he stopped at the gas station or passed the car on his right, because I wasn’t the one driving. That was Dad’s job. I just slept in the back seat and trusted we’d arrive at our destination in one piece.
And that’s all God asks for us to do as well. Just trust that he’ll get us to the right destination, even when the place we end up looks nothing like the place we hoped for.
Trust that he knows the way- no matter how long it takes, even when the road twists and turns and we’d rather be on the smooth highway that we left than the bumpy dirt road that he took us down. Trust him even when we get car sick and think that we’d be the better driver because we know no matter what our hearts tell us-we’re safer in his hands than we are in our own.
If you still struggle to believe that- you’re not alone.
But let me encourage you- keep drawing closer to the Lord. He is greater than your doubts and fears and he is the only one who will never fail you. Search his scriptures for his promises of hope. Memorize them. Write them on your heart. Be honest with him. Cry out to him. Delight yourself in him and He will give you the desires of your heart as he promises in Psalm 37:4.
The Israelite’s wanted a Jesus with an army and a sword and influence and power, but God knew we needed a Jesus with nail pierced hands, who ate with sinners and healed lepers, and loved without condition.
He knows what is best for you. His plans are good.
And the only reason He doesn’t want to meet your expectations is because he is going to exceed them.
“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” -Ephesians 3:16-21
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