So, What Did You Expect?

 At some point in our lives we have probably all been greatly disappointed or even angered because our expectations were not met.  Maybe we expected a bicycle for Christmas as a child  and just got clothes. Maybe we worked hard to get a promotion or to be chosen for a certain position and it didn’t happen. Maybe we went to a particular church expecting to have our needs met and were disillusioned. Maybe, because of our position, we expect to be treated in a certain way, but receive no such special treatment. Or, it may be as simple as expecting your favorite meal for supper and getting chopped liver instead.

     One of the major issues that brings people in to see a counselor is broken expectations which often result in anger and bitterness, especially if they are ongoing.  Life has a way of breaking our expectations. Then what?  How do we respond?  Is our day ruined when a package we are expecting doesn’t arrive or when our favorite team is expected to win by a wide margin and ends up losing? What does it do to your faith and attitude when someone you have been witnessing to about Christ tells you they don’t want you preaching to them anymore, just when you think they are about ready to receive Christ?   I think that Alexander Pope was onto something when he said, “Blessed is he who expects nothing for he shall never be disappointed.” Or maybe it is that we have misplaced our expectations.  If our expectations are of others and of situations turning out as we hope or things going our way, we will continue to be disappointed, angered, disillusioned, confused and probably become bitter and critical.
     Things were going well for Paul and Silas as they ministered in Philippi.  A business woman from Thyatira, Lydia and her household had become the first converts in Europe. She invited them to come to her house and stay and disciple them (Acts. 16:13-15). But a certain demon-possessed servant girl kept crying out to Paul and Silas and Paul finally turned to her and commanded the demon to come out. They may have expected folks to be grateful but the girl happened to be used to tell fortunes and her own masters were going to lose their livelihood and they became very upset and stirred up the crowd and city officials against Paul and Silas who were beaten and thrown into prison, and their feet fastened in stocks. Talk about an opportunity for Paul and Silas to complain to God and to be angry about the disappointing outcome of their ministry in Philippi, but instead they were “praying and singing hymns of praise to God at midnight and the prisoners were listening to them” (Acts 16:25).  God caused an earthquake that shook the jailhouse “and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened” (v. 26).  The jailer, when he saw the opened doors was going to take his own life, thinking the prisoners had all escaped, “But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Do yourself no harm, for we are all here!’” (v. 28).  When the jailer saw that Paul was right, he said, “’Sirs, what must I do to be saved.’ And they said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be save, you and your household’”(vv. 30,31). The scene could have turned out much differently had Paul and Silas become angry and disappointed with God for allowing the beating and imprisonment. It was their amazing attitudes of prayer and singing praises that resulted in the jailer and his family coming to Christ, and possibly some of the other prisoners as well. 
     The Apostle Paul never expected to be living a life of ease and comfort or to be well liked and well treated.  When he later wrote to the church that had been established in Philippi (possibly in Lydia’s home), he spoke of what his expectations were: “According to my earnest expectations and hope, that I shall not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ shall even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.  For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:20,21). And, by the way, guess where he was when he wrote the letter–in prison in Rome!  If our expection is to make Christ visible to those around us regardless of where we are or who we are with, we will find those expectations met and even exceeded. And Christ will be exalted.
        I wonder how often I have missed opportunities to share God’s love and forgiveness because I have made my life all about me, and my expectations and have been disappointed, angry and had a bad attitude. I need to continue to remind myself—as do you—that it is my purpose to glorify my Savior regardless of my circumstances.
     So, what do you expect? Are you expecting others to treat you a certain way, or expecting a certain outcome of a situation…well you are setting yourself up for a fall. It is inevitable that you will continue to be disappointed. Why not make it your only expectation to magnify Christ wherever you are and whoever you are with and in whatever circumstances. You won’t be disappointed.
                Forever His.
                    Pastor Dave 
Remember, what happens to us is not nearly as important as what God does in and through us.

About Pastor Dave

Until my retirement 2 years ago, I pastored an independent Bible church in Northwest Montana for nearly 38 years. During that time I also helped establish a Christian school, and a Bible Camp. I am married and have children and grandchildren. The Wisdom of the Week devotional is an outgrowth of my desire to share what God is doing in my life and in our world, and to challenge you to be a part.
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