All of us at one time or another has endured some suffering. It could be physical illness or pain from an accident or even someone deliberately trying to hurt you. It could be emotional suffering from loss or verbal attack. Some may be suffering from mental and emotional illness due to depression and many other sources. Many of us feel we’ve endured spiritual suffering from attacks of fear or Satan. Many of these things we can’t do anything about because these were problems brought on us from an outside source.
There is a suffering we can do something about and I think this is where most of my suffering is rooted. This is due to expectations. When we believe or want something to happen in a certain way we have planned and it doesn’t happen the way we thought it should, then it brings on suffering and disappointment. This is a suffering we do not have to endure.
Did you expect to get that certain job or career and it never happened? When you got married did you have all kinds of expectations on having a perfect marriage and living happily ever after? What about your children? Did you expect them to love school, get a college degree or have a substantial position of some type especially following in your footsteps? Did you expect them to be a strong Christian walking close with the Lord? Do you expect your children to be grateful for all the sacrifices you’ve made for them? Did you expect to get that new house or car? Did you expect to get that raise or promotion? You see, when these expectations don’t come, they bring on disappointment and suffering.
I’ve experienced a lot of suffering from my own expectations. Nine years ago when I became a certified personality trainer I just knew that when I got back home and started having seminars, people would flock to hear this wonderful information. It didn’t happen. When I developed a seminar on boundaries, I thought the same thing and it didn’t happen. When I wrote a book on depression I believed it was going to be a big seller. Of course, disappointment and suffering was soon to follow.
Then there are those who give you expectations. Maybe someone told a person or you told someone they were going to be a great singer someday, all the time knowing they couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket. This is called lying and giving false expectations. It’s disguised by saying, “Oh, I was just trying to be encouraging and nice.” I’ve know I’ve done the same thing. Maybe someone told you that you were going to be great at something and you feel as if you were not only a disappointment to them but to yourself.
Since my brief encounter with death one of the things I’ve heard a lot over the last year was, “I know God has a special purpose for you or you wouldn’t be here.” First of all this is not true. The only reason I’m alive is because God wanted me to be and nothing else. Not because He has great plans for me or anyone else. It’s simply because He is God and that’s enough. God is Sovereign! You may want to read Romans 9. One of my favorite scriptures as well as may be yours too is Jeremiah 29:11. ‘For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’
This is where this really gets interesting for me. You may be saying, “Aren’t we are supposed to have hope. What is life without hope?” I want you to understand that hope and expectations aren’t the same thing.
“Expectations are when we expect God to follow our plans
And hope is when we are willing to follow His.”
There are some who say that since we are God’s children He wants to give us everything we want. The truth is He wants to give us everything He wants. His gifts are so much better than we could even imagine. If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! Matthew 7:11 One of the problems we have is we do not know how to ask for GOOD GIFTS. Our desires are usually selfish and materialistic. God neither thinks like us nor do we naturally think like Him. He wants so much for us to have the growth and maturity to think as He does. "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9
There is an old hymn that goes, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness.” When we learn to have all our hope in Him, this is when He can use us the most. I’m not going to say He is going to give you what you want, but He will always give us what we need. We need to set our hopes on something larger than expectation and that alone is Jesus. Years ago I thought I knew for the first time where I was going and what I wanted to do. Right now I don’t have a clue where my path will lead. That’s not my problem, that’s God’s. All I have to do is follow Him.
So are we not supposed to expect anything in life? Not necessarily. There are things we can expect God to do because He said it would happen. If you have accepted Jesus as your savior you can expect to go to heaven. Not because of anything you have done, but because of what He has done. If you have not accepted Jesus then you can expect to go to hell. Jesus said to expect Him to return someday and I do. I just don’t know when. If Jesus doesn’t come back in my lifetime, that doesn’t mean He’s not going to.
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Romans 8:18