EXPECTATIONS AND ACCEPTANCE - P1
“He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority’” (Acts 1:7).
The Bible is full of Believers who lived lives like us—filled with conscious and subconscious expectations about the way things are, or the way they should be. And so often we read that in those lives, their expectations were turned upside down.
It can be very hard for us humans to live with unmet or thwarted expectations. We all have expectations about what will or should happen in our lives. And we have expectations of how God will act in our lives. These expectations can be built on all sorts of things—personal experiences, hopes, dreams, emotions, or even teaching we’ve been taught. Even Believers steeped in the Word of God have had their expectations dashed by the reality of the will of God as it moved in their lives. We can struggle with maturing past our expectations—just as the folks in the Bible did.
Think of David. He was a young boy when Samuel “took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers” (1 Sam. 16:13a). But years went by of fear, hunted by Saul, living hard in the wilderness and more. Even after Saul’s death, his crown did not come easily: “Now there was a long war between the house of Saul and the house of David; and David grew steadily stronger, but the house of Saul grew weaker continually” (2 Sam. 3:1). Finally, when all the dust settled, “David was thirty years old when he became king” (2 Sam. 5:4a). I’m sure this was not what he expected as a boy when God chose him to be king. It may help explain his sin of entitlement with Bathsheba after he finally did become king—perhaps he felt deserving of what he wanted after all that difficulty. But sin is never excusable, and David’s sense of entitlement led him into adultery and murder—both punishable by death under the Law. It is a good reminder that frustration with unmet expectations can lead us into an entitled mindset that will leave us in terrible places of sin’s collateral damage.
Sometimes, we can give into frustration, waiting upon expectations. Consider Abraham. God told him “Go forth from your country….And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing” (Gen. 12:1-2). Yet God’s promise was not fulfilled for a very long time and then not how he expected. The decades went by as Abraham waited and waited...until he was an old man and Sarai finally convinced him to take matters into his own hands. He took Sarai’s maid Hagar and she gave birth to a son. But this son was not the son that God had promised and the consequences of taking actions into his own hands resulted in hostility that persists to this day between Israel and the decedents of Ismael. But at long last, God fulfilled His Word (doubtfully how Abraham had expected all those decades ago when God first led him out into the wilderness) — “Abraham was one hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him” (Gen. 21:5).
The list goes on and on of people possessed of expectations about what would happen in their lives and how reality unraveled to be quite different. We all struggle with this at one time or another in our lives, in small or large ways. And it is natural for us to experience frustration, hurt, anger, or pain when life does not meet our “reasonable” expectations. The danger is very real for us to lash out, abandon God, wade into sin because we feel entitled or deserving, or settle for the unbiblical idea that “God helps those who help themselves” as an excuse to take matters into our own hands. But God’s plan and His will is so much more important and vast that all this falls by the wayside the deeper we grow in Christ.
In the week to come, we’ll be looking at a good illustration of this in the Disciple’s reaction to Jesus’ death and resurrection and in how they learned to accept the will of God. May we grow to be like them. Even so, Amen.