Overcoming Unfulfilled Expectations

What expectations do you have? What are you dreams? How come these are often not a reality?

“Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again? Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time? Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he withheld his compassion?” (Psalm 77:7-9)

Perhaps the answer to these questions is because we have turned God into someone he is not. Read Matthew 11:1-15 to see an example of one who had unfulfilled expectations yet through Jesus’ response found fulfillment in God and his word.

In this passage John had unfulfilled expectations of the Messiah and unwanted circumstances being in prison. if we are honest, we have the same tendency John did. We turn Jesus into someone we hope he is: Someone to achieve my dreams, fulfill my desires, satisfy my needs, and meet my expectations. Jesus did not come to perform our purposes but to accomplish his own. We must understand this foundational concept if we are to overcome personal expectations that remain unfulfilled. In other words, we must surrender our dreams and expectations to trusting God and his purposes.

Continuing to read this passage you can find 2 ways to overcome unfulfilled expectations:

You can overcome unfulfilled expectations by focusing on God’s work (Matthew 11:1-5).
There are times when our expectations go unfulfilled that we fail to see God’s hand at work in our life. We become selfish and myopic in our thinking. However, it is most often in times of crisis and unfulfilled expectations that God is diligently working in our life. Many believers who have endured such experiences can confirm this truth.

C.S. Lewis said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pain. It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”[1]

Psalm 77:17-19 “The clouds poured down water, the skies resounded with thunder; your arrows flashed back and forth. Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind, your lightning lit up the world; the earth trembled and quaked. Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen.”

Nahum 1:3b “His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet.”

In other words, evidence that God is present and working in your life is the fact there is change and crisis. God allows such circumstances in order to shape our being and refocus our priorities. We must know that God is not so removed to never know our pain. Remember, Resurrection Sunday never would have come without Crucifixion Friday.

– Write a list of your unfulfilled expectations. Pray over them asking God to reveal his purpose in them.
– List “God-sightings” in your life this past year. Places where you saw God at work in your life and around you. This will serve as a reminder that God is not absent or left you alone. If you cannot think of anything to write then perhaps the reason is because you do not know God. Would you consider asking God to reveal himself to you, even as John did in this passage?

You can overcome unfulfilled expectations by focusing on God’s calling (Matthew 11:6-15).
When God is not meeting our expectations we must first evaluate our faith and trust in God’s sovereignty to bring about his purposes in our life. Next, we must not lose our passion for who we are and where God has called us. There are times when things may not be going our way and things seem like they are stacking against us. During these times we often take on the victim mentality. We excuse behavior based on the actions of others. This mentality becomes our prison of depression and hopelessness. It is wrong because it views our unfulfillments bigger than God. It fails to see God as all powerful and all knowing bringing about all things for his greater purposes. God is working in the midst of trials and he is calling you to not give up. “Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me…”

). In other words, we should expect challenging and difficult times. Too often we can be tempted to give up and pull away right before we reap the benefits. In the face of difficulty or challenge we quit and abandon everyone else. Not only is this a selfish attitude but it denies the group, team or spouse (the body of Christ) the opportunity to support one another and grow from struggles. Besides, when did the road to God’s blessings become paved with ease and comfort?

God is calling you to protect his name and persevere in the situations he has placed you. This may mean getting counseling in your marriage, working through the issues attacking your marriage. It may mean remaining patient for God to clearly open another opportunity of employment. You may have to show some tough love to a loved one because of your commitment to not compromise your integrity. To summarize it in a phrase: be tenacious over God’s calling. Tenacious means “not easily pulled apart, persistent in seeking something valued or desired.”[2] God has called you and is preparing you through various circumstances to glorify Jesus and serve others.

Romans 8:18, 28-29 “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us… And we knot that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son”

2 Corinthians 1:4-5,9b God “comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows… [these circumstances] happen that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.”

– There’s probably someone in your life that knows/thinks you are about to give up on them or step away from a commitment. I encourage you to contact them and tell them you are committed to protecting God’s name and persevering to discover God’s purpose for the situation.

– Realize God cares more about your long-term character than your short-term comfort. It’s not about your happiness but your holiness! Choose to view obstacles with this perspective.

Ultimately, the reason why we are able to focus on God’s work and God’s calling is because Jesus did so when he lived on earth. Jesus was never surprised by the circumstances he faced but in his humanity he did face unwanted circumstances; specifically the cross. Yet, he submitted to the Father’s will dying for our sin. Jesus was tenacious about honoring God the Father. Our hope rests on Jesus and the sufficiency he provides.

· Have you personally trusted and received Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for sin in your life?
· John’s unfulfilled expectations led him to seek God. What does yours lead to? Are you allowing them to lead to dishonorable behaviors (victim mentality)?
· Will you submit your expectations (fulfilled or unfulfilled) to honoring God in all things?

[1] C.S. Lewis in his work, The Problem of Pain.
[2] http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tenacious

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