Expectations can change everything. A few years ago, my family planned a week away to the beautiful Lake Tahoe. It was a beautiful adventure that was timed during the fire season. This left the normally breathtaking views to be nearly completely covered by a thick off-white cloud of smoke. It was still very beautiful, very fun, and a wonderful time with family.
But, many of our family members had researched Tahoe before we left and, therefore, had a slightly different picture in their heads. This set up many people to be a bit underwhelmed and therefore disappointed…by Tahoe! Even with the smoke, it was one of the most beautiful lakes I’ve ever seen, but I had lower expectations. I knew the smoke was there. I expected it, therefore I was less surprised and it was easier for me to catch the beauty.
I recently read the story of Lazarus who was raised from the dead by Jesus. Lazarus’ sisters, and even His disciples, had mixed expectations. They knew the Lord Jesus loved their brother and could do miracles, so they knew He could intervene. But they had no idea He would delay. Actually, Jesus delayed intentionally so that “they may believe.” It was for a strengthening of their faith that Jesus allowed that suffering to take place. He even shared in that suffering. He was not immune to it. He wept right alongside the siblings.
I believe that the expectations of Lazarus’ sisters for WHO Jesus was kept them from sinful responses to their loss. They knew He was the resurrection and the life and that Lazarus would return in the end. This Hope in the end and this Hope in Jesus allowed them to suffer and not blame God.
It is tempting to blame our trials on God, because we know God uses trials for our good…so it seems like He is the source. But God is the source of our healing, our strength, and the hope for future with Him. If we believe God will keep us from trials, or keep us from suffering, we set ourselves up for unmet expectations. Unmet expectations lead people away from walking with the Lord. I never want my struggles to hurt my faith. I want my struggles to strengthen my resolve to seek more of Jesus!
So, there are three things I can expect:
-God to be present
-God to be glorified
Romans 5 tells us that suffering produces perseverance, character and hope. I love that what the enemy uses to break us down, God uses to build us up! God doesn’t want His followers to be weak. He does allow us to be sharpened and refined. Therefore, I can expect trials of many kinds.
Psalms 121 describes God, “He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” He’s not taking a break from keeping things running. Even in the vilest of situations, which seem like pure evil, we can be confident and live expectant that even in that darkness, God is present.
Just as Jesus declared in John 11, “God will be glorified!” He recognized that the death of Lazarus was going to lead to the miracle of life.
I want my life to point to the glory of God. I can choose to allow God to be glorified THROUGH me or DESPITE me. I choose through me. I will stay close to Jesus, and strong in trials, allowing God to receive the glory for carrying me through it all. God is glorified even in the difficult things. Plus, we know God is victorious over all things in the end, even all of the effects of sin. This is the expectation we can live with today.
How do these expectations change the way you see your today?
Candace Cortez is Executive Pastor at Koinonia Church in Hanford, CA. She can be reached at email@example.com or 559-582-1528.