Great Expectations?

Disappointments—life is full of them.

  • The weather bungled your vacation.
  • Your child is doing poorly in school.
  • That romantic night with your husband was spent watching football on TV.
  • God didn’t answer your prayer in the way you wanted.

Expect means: to look forward to; regard as likely to happen; anticipate the occurrence or the coming of. It implies a confident belief. 

There’s nothing wrong with having expectations.

Our problem is the way we respond when they don’t pan out. I used to get so bent out of shape when what “should” have happened didn’t. Not only did I find myself disappointed, but discontented and complaining. No one was happy—not my husband or those around me, not myself, and certainly not God!

Sometimes our expectations are unfounded, based only on what we wish. Other times, they are based on right assumptions. Like when a Christian doesn’t act like a Christian. Where “They shouldn’t have done that!” is a true statement. It’s not only what you didn’t want or expect, but God didn’t either.

So how do we deal with these unavoidable let downs? A few weeks ago I mentioned one of the keys to being content is decreasing our expectations of self, others, and life while increasing our expectations of God.

If you’re a perfectionist (like I am), achieving this mindset is difficult. Perfectionists often place unrealistic high demands on themselves and others. They plan and try to control the outcome. They want everything to be—well, perfect.

Planning is good. Paying attention to detail is admirable. But nothing is perfect this side of heaven. Having wrong or idealistic expectations robs us of joy and can be destructive to those around us, especially our kids.

Our expectations are to be on God not men. We are to look to Him for our needs and desires to be filled. With eyes focused correctly, we’ll be able to quickly adjust and regain our contentedness when life is disappointing. God is the perfect Planner. If we look to Him, we won’t be disappointed.

“Those who hope in me will not be disappointed.” (Is 49:23)

When we believe something should happen it’s like saying we’re in charge. We need to let go of our expectations; our desires, legitimate as they may be, and act like God is the One in control (because He is), then life won’t be as disappointing. We’ll be able to enjoy life to the fullest, despite our expectations not being fully met.

We can enjoy the present moment even if it’s not the ideal moment.

Releasing control, accepting whatever happens, and trusting that our Father knows best is a much better way to live.

Let me clarify something here.

Our expectations of God must never be demanding, even if it’s based on His promises.

That’s not being humble. We can ask boldly and with confident faith for things according to His Word. And God will answer. But don’t expect Him to necessarily answer in your way and timing. That’s arrogance. God will not tolerate such an attitude!

Don’t live life expecting to receive or centered on what you think should happen. Rather live a life of love and self-giving; focused on God and others. And God will bless you beyond your wildest imagination.

Life is full of the unexpected. Embrace it!


Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION® NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.