Entering into new seasons of life, you will always have expectations. No matter how hard you try in the natural, it’s just in you to expect certain things to take place or be a certain way. As a faith-filled believer, it is actually truly in our new nature in Christ to be expectant. Expectation for a believer can be a most beautiful, glorious thing!
But what do you do when you have unmet expectations? As a faith-filled believer, how do you navigate when someone’s free-will choices affect your faith and what you thought you’d see? How, as a person of faith, are you allowed to grieve the disappointment of what you had hoped things might look like?
Welcome to a small piece of my life in the past few months.
1 Thessalonians 4:13 says that we are not to grieve like others who have no hope. So please do not mishear me or hear what I am not saying: It is important to grieve the old season, if necessary. It’s ok to grieve the disappointment of unmet expectations in the new. It is not ok to stay in that grief, without hope and with an orphan mentality, because that is not who you are. It is now Christ living in you, and He is our very own Hope of glory.
Here are some steps the Lord has given me to push through this strange season. If you have had to face the pain of disappointment through expectations not quite turning out the way you had wished for, these steps are definitely for you.
1. Take this as an opportunity to learn more about God’s character. During times like these, false beliefs about God may be exposed, which is a great thing! Work through the process with Him, and replace lies with truth. It’s also a great time to find out more beautiful aspects of His character that you never knew existed or that you’ve never before experienced.
2. Learn to fight with your sword. Learn to declare truth in the process. Dive into the Bible like never before! “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). The Bible says that our weapons are not like the world’s weapons. Learn to use your weapons and pray the promises of God aloud, attaching your faith to the truth in His word.
3. Don’t compare. Don’t compare your life to someone else’s. Don’t compare your pain to another’s. Don’t compare your grief to your friend’s. Don’t compare your current situation to your old one. “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:18-19).
4. Invite others into your process. Galatians 6:2 says that we should bear one another’s burdens. Don’t let the enemy isolate you! Isolation is the petri dish of lies. “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against All sound judgment” (Proverbs 18:1).
5. Keep a right perspective. Romans says that hope does not disappoint. God promises to work out ALL THINGS for the GOOD of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes (Romans 8:28). “…But take heart, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
6. Remind yourself of God’s kindness. Surely out of everything you’ve experienced, you could write a list of all the ways that God has shown kindness to you in the midst of disappointment. Anything from seeing a rainbow or a stunning sunset, to that friend who took you for coffee, to the guy that held the door opened for you that day you were about to burst into tears. If we look carefully, there are MANY kisses from the Father along the way.
7. Surrender the unmet expectations. Surrender them. Let them go. Don’t allow yourself to never expect anything every again – you are NOT a victim – just surrender it. Sow it back to Jesus in your tears, and reap a harvest of joy and peace in return. And then get up and start hoping again.
The scripture that has helped me most is from Psalm 23:6 – Surely goodness and mercy follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the House of the Lord forever.
May goodness and mercy chase you down in this season. Our Father is so KIND…ask Him to remind you of His kindness toward you and don’t give up hope. If you must grieve, then grieve. And then pick yourself up and jump back into a place of expectation of good. He will not fail you.
~ Mandy Woodhouse