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Life’s Unmet Expectations

Dave Miller

I can’t remember where I read this question. All I know is that it hit me right between the eyes – and it hit me hard.

The writer asked:

“How have life’s unmet expectations impacted your view of God?”

There have been things in my life that I was expecting to take place, and they simply never did. After considering this convicting thought, I had to admit that my view of God, especially through the lens of these unfulfilled expectations, needed adjusting.

But what exactly are unmet expectations?

“Unmet expectations can be defined as “Unfulfilled life events, material/financial goals, or personal accomplishments that we consciously or subconsciously have anticipated happening at some point in our life.” In short, they are unfulfilled life goals.

Unmet expectations can manifest in many aspects of our lives:

  • “I thought that our family would have been started by now.”

  • “I thought that I would be financially set by this point in life.”

  • I planned on traveling more after I retired, but my health took a turn for the worse.”

Don’t get me wrong, goals and expectations are not bad things. It’s not a bad thing to want to retire by the age of 62. But what happens when those expectations don’t pan out the way we thought they would? Goals aren’t anti-God. However, unchecked expectations can dangerously declare, “God, I have a plan, follow me.” It’s okay to have a plan, but as a wise man once said “Keep your plans in an open palm and give God the final revision.”

If we are not careful, we can allow these unmet expectations to negatively impact our view of God. The devil would want these unmet expectations to…

  • Make us feel incomplete.

  • Make us feel like God’s timing is late.

  • Make us play the ‘blame-game’ (by blaming either ourselves, others, or even God).

In the Bible, King David knew what it was like to have a desire and not have it come to fruition. In 2 Samuel, after many battles, God had blessed Israel with a period of rest. During this period of rest, King David was sitting in his house contemplating the fact that he had a big beautiful house and God’s ark was merely dwelling in a tent. David tells God’s prophet, Nathan, this and he then encourages David to pursue whatever may be in David’s heart. David’s desire was a good desire – an honorable desire, but we later learn that his desire wasn’t God’s plan. Perhaps, this is one of many reasons why we remember David as a “man after God’s own heart.” We learn that David ultimately puts aside his desire and therefore pursues God’s plan for his life. I wonder what would happen in our lives if we adopted this same heart?

Can I encourage you to dwell in the fact that although things haven’t come to fruition like you envisioned (at least thus far) that God is still at work. Think about this example from the Bible and all that God had done in the “waiting period” or in the “detour period,” or even in the “I have another path for you” period. Furthermore, consider the good that these unmet expectations can bring in your life.

Life’s Unmet Expectations:

1. Remind us that God is always on time.

  • Even when things seem to be late, we can rest in the truth that God’s timing is perfect.

2. Remind us that God is providential in all things.

  • Remember, even when nothing appears to be special about your current situation, God has you right where He needs you to be.

3. Remind us that God is worthy of revising our original plans.

  • He is the great Master Engineer. We can devise our own blueprints, but we should rest in knowing that God knows what’s best for us.

For me, I don’t want to have a heart that says, “God, I have a plan, follow me.” Instead, I want to have a heart that says, “God, I want what you have specifically for me . . . Not your plans for someone else’s life. So, God, what do you have for me?”

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