How Jesus handles expectations and disappointment
Have you ever had grand visions and expectations for something and then it didn't turn out the way you had hoped? Disappointment hurts.
When we moved into our new house I had so many hopes and dreams for what it would look like. But boxes are still packed and piled high in the living room, a broken window allows critters like frogs to sneak in and interrupt my morning quiet time, and the popcorn ceilings are gone but it looks like we are living in a construction zone.
I knew we would be living in the mess of remodeling and unpacking for a while, but I've still had to deal with a little bit of disappointment as I shift my expectations to a more realistic timeline for hosting the dinner parties of my dreams.
Luckily, the tangled up mess of my human expectation is something Jesus has dealt with before.
In John 16:1 He says, "these things I have spoken to you, that you should not stumble." Jesus was speaking to His disciples, and He was managing expectations.
He knew what was coming, and He wanted to prepare them for the disappointment they might experience. I'm not saying we shouldn't expect great things from God.
I think we should expect big miracles, signs, and wonders and great moves of God in our daily lives and I think we should actively pray for them and pursue God in that way.
But I also think we need to be careful about where our expectations (and the disappointment they might result in) come from.
Later after Jesus had died and rose again, Thomas spoke a few famous lines expressing His doubt and disappointment. Jesus didn't turn out to be who He expected (at least that's what He thought) and He was let down and disillusioned because of it.
I'm encouraged and moved by Jesus' approach to Thomas in this, and I think He extends us the same invitation.
He says, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe” (John 20:27).
Thomas' encounter with Jesus happened a week after Thomas expressed his doubt. My translation: God's timing wasn't the timing Thomas wanted.
Maybe a lot of us are living in that week; the week in between expressing our disappointment that God didn't do what we thought He should, and when Jesus invites us to come and encounter Him for ourselves.
I think Jesus is willing to set our expectations.
He wants to share His promises with us and He does throughout scripture. He tells us who He is and who God is and what we can expect from Him. When we experience the doubt and disappointment of what seems like a broken promise, we can be confident it isn't God. God never makes a promise He doesn't keep.
Maybe, like Thomas we are hoping for a certain timeframe, or an outcome doesn't make sense to us yet.
To live in that tension between encountering God and waiting on Him, we have to know what to be expectant of.
I shared my list of things I can expect from God in Instagram and I would encourage you to go through your Bible and make your own list. When you start to feel disappointed, ask God to show you what promise He is keeping to you in that moment. Because He's always keeping His promises.