At one point or another, we find all ourselves feeling disappointed at God over unfulfilled expectations. Is God obligated to fulfill our expectations and desires? Furthermore, how do we know which desires are from Him and which are our own?In mid-December, during a spontaneous moment in our worship service, one of our congregants shared a word about expectations that went something like this: over the years, we’ve lowered our expectations of God – either because we’ve been disappointed or because the promise is prolonged or seems impossible. After a while just it becomes easier to have low or no expectations of God than to risk being hurt, disappointed, or let down by unfulfilled expectations.
Should we “expect” anything from God and if so where should those expectations come from? By expectations I don’t mean God is obligated to fulfill our every whim but rather those things we are promised as children and heirs.
Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. (Romans 8:17 NIV)
God is first and foremost bound to fulfill His Word. If our expectations are firmly rooted in His Word and Promises then yes, we can expect them to be fulfilled. Additionally, when we delight ourselves in Him, He gives us the desires of our hearts (see Psalm 37:4). John goes on to tell us when we abide in Christ, we can ask whatever we wish and it will be done for us (John 15:7). The apostle John seals it by saying, if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. (1 John 5:4) So the key is to have our expectations firmly rooted in God and His Word.
A New Approach
Instead of being let down by unfulfilled expectations and desires, what if we took time to root our expectations in God and His promises? Are we just feeding God our own dreams and expectations and when they don’t come to pass we become disappointed and let down? Better to ask God for His expectations, desires, and dreams for our lives and then confidently put our hope in Him to lead us, guide us and fulfill those expectations.
Rather than starting the New Year with a bunch of our own expectations that may never come to pass, why not begin with a blank slate in prayer? Start by asking God, what are your desires and expectations for me (or us) in the New Year and beyond? Then, let Him speak. Write it down, pray into it, and make sure they are deeply rooted in the Bible. That way, you will make His desires and expectations yours this year. Sometimes our dreams and expectations align with His and sometimes they don’t. What brings glory to God is not always the same as what you may want. Submit your desires to His and allow His desires to form your expectations of Him!
I’ve shared some other things over the years about navigating expectations and New Years’ goal setting you may find helpful.
*Picture credit, Alex [in wonderland] via Flickr