The Intrinsic Need for Expectations and Expecting More from God

Lamentations 3:22-26
22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”
25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
26 it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord. 

Psalm 40:1
I waited patiently for the Lord and He heard my cry, freeing me from all my fears.

 

The Intrinsic Need for Expectations and Expecting More from God

There you are. You’ve been let down again, perhaps by a spouse who hasn’t really changed, or a friend who always cancels, or maybe you just did the very thing you said you’d never do again. Whatever the situation is, you had hope that things would occur, alter or stop, and when your expectations weren’t met, your pain began tempting you to think you never should have imagined it could be different.

One of the many emotions we all have and will experience is disappointment, a feeling produced by unfulfilled expectations. We hate to be disappointed and we hate to be disappointments ourselves.

At some point during our rocky journey, some sage typically comes along (and it’s always someone who has had their fill of disappointments, as well) and tells us to lower our expectations or to have none at all. For surely, if we don’t have any expectations, there won’t be any disappointments springing up from unmet expectations. We can be conditioned to expect the worst, and when the worst doesn’t come, we’re glad.

After many years of disappointments and feeling like a disappointment, I began to adopt that mentality. I was only in high school. I realized it was probably a cynical and apathetic mental practice to take on, but I was tired of having even the smallest of hopes crushed, leaving me to look like a fool. I thought it was a wise decision. After all, if you don’t have expectations of others, how can you be hurt?

There’s a problem with this apathetic nature. Many feel as though they can keep giving without getting and fulfilling others’ expectations of them without having any expectations of others, but that’s not how we’re wired. We’re not intended to only be islands of service.

What I, at the time, and so many others don’t realize is that we have an intrinsic need to expect things of others and ourselves. You cannot have a relationship with anyone, be it as simple as a friendship where you meet up once a year for coffee, without having some sort of expectation. You expect them to show up. You expect that you’ll have at least an adequate time. You may even enjoy it thoroughly. Otherwise, neither of you would bother to meet up in the first place.

The thing is, expectations can translate into hopes. If you’re a Christian, you claim to be serving the God of all hope. He is hope incarnate. And when it boils down to it, you cannot have joy without hope. They’re inseparable because God is also joy. So if expectations are also hopes and God is hope, that means we should have expectations of God. That’s right. That’s what I said.

Some may think that’s an insolently bold statement, but we are encouraged to have faith, and faith means having the expectation that God will carry out the plans He has promised in His Word.

With all that being said, I would like to draw attention to us Christians, those who have grown up in the church, those who have just started learning about the Bible and the Lord, those who have made hotdishes for church potlucks for the past 21 years, those who don’t know what a hotdish is, and those who take their car in every Saturday to get washed so it’s clean on Sunday.

We expect not, so we ask not, and since we ask not, we are not given. In Matthew 7:7-11, Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”

The God of the universe is telling us to ask and wait expectantly. No, God is not a vending machine or a genie, but when we ask God to use the desires we believe He has given us in our hearts to carry out His will with our lives, we can be sure He will reward our faith and trust in Him.

Psalm 34:8
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!

The whole “Que sera, sera. Whatever will be, will be” approach isn’t good enough. In Zephaniah 1:12, the Lord told Zephaniah that “it shall come to pass at that time that I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and punish the men who settle in complacency, who say in their heart, ‘The Lord will do no good, nor will He do evil.’”

I’ve heard so many Christians say that God will do what He will do, that if it’s meant to be (insert something you’re waiting for) will happen. Many won’t even encourage you to pray about it and seek the Lord. They just tell you that what will happen will happen and the way it’s supposed to be will just occur naturally. And when it comes to miraculous healings – don’t even… just stop. The lack of faith is astounding compared to the biblical faith we’ve read about. I’m ashamed to say that I’ve so often taken the same lackluster and faithless approach in my relationship with God.

But having faith means taking risks sometimes, to even look a little foolish in our childlike trust. We are told to come boldly to the throne of God and seek His grace. We’re not supposed to take an apathetic approach and just ask for nothing from our Lord. If Abraham hadn’t asked the Lord to save Lot and his family, they would have been completely wiped out along with the rest of Sodom and Gomorrah. God does bend down to listen to our cries. Yes, He knows the future and what will happen, but He also knows who will ask Him fervently for help during their times of distress.

It’s easy for us to box in God’s power and designate it to an episode of the 700 Club on TBN. It’s not real to us because we haven’t noticed the smaller miracles in our own lives. We call it serendipity or coincidence. Because we don’t notice the smaller ways in which God is working every day, we don’t expect God to miraculously change our lives in much larger, undeniable ways.

We are to expect great things from the Lord because He is good and He wants us to trust Him to work in our lives, in our families, in our nation, in our world, all for His glory.

Psalm 34:17-19
The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.

Do we often get our own human version of what we want God to do in our lives mixed up with His actual will? Yes, all too often. But until we realize that God’s plans for our lives are so much better than any piddly thing we’d hoped for and imagined, we won’t truly trust Him. I’m in the process of letting that truth sink into my own way of thinking. It’s a hard habit to break. It’s difficult letting go and letting the Lord do what He will with our futures, especially when it seems as though we can’t get a break. It’s actually scary giving up any control, even when we realize we can’t truly control anything very well.

Believe me when I say that I know we frequently have too high of expectations for our fellow humans, but we can’t function without having some. When all others fail us, and when we fail others, we can always depend on God. He is the only constant.

We so often place our hope in things that will never meet or satisfy our needs. That is when disappointment sets in and tarnishes our hearts and outlook. We need to be sure we’re placing our ultimate hope in the One who can and will carry out what He has promised.

One of the hardest parts about having expectations, having faith is waiting because waiting for the good God wants to give and has planned for us in answer to our pleas is on God’s time, not ours. But take heart. Jesus never turned anyone away when they asked for healing or for forgiveness. Remind yourself of how merciful and loving He is every time you wonder if you can trust Him with your life. Wait on the Lord.

Habakkuk 2:3
For the vision is set for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.

Isaiah 63:7
I will tell of the kindnesses of the LORD, the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the LORD has done for us – yes, the many good things he has done for Israel, according to his compassion and many kindnesses.

Psalm 40:1-5
I waited patiently for the LORD to help me,
and he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the pit of despair,
out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground
and steadied me as I walked along.
He has given me a new song to sing,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what he has done and be amazed.
They will put their trust in the LORD.
Oh, the joys of those who trust the LORD,
who have no confidence in the proud
or in those who worship idols.
O LORD my God, you have performed many wonders for us.
Your plans for us are too numerous to list.
You have no equal.
If I tried to recite all your wonderful deeds,
I would never come to the end of them.

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