All of us at one time or another have experienced the disappointment of an unmet expectation. It’s natural that we expect things from our spouse, our children, our friends and from life in general, but when our expectations are not met, we feel saddened or let down. This is part of our everyday life. Expectations are good as long as they are in line with the will of God. Unfortunately, there are people whose expectations are based on Murphy’s law that “if anything can go wrong, it will go wrong!” These people find that their prediction becomes real far too often. It’s as though they expect Satan to make their lives miserable in one way or another. Instead, they should expect God to do the unexpected in their lives to deliver them from evil and to show them that He is always in control.
We know that with God all things are possible, but do we really believe they are probable? We pray with a sincere heart, but we have little expectation. Our faith is so rooted in earthly circumstances that we are unable to look up and to see the handiwork of God. Even Peter had difficulty believing the unexpected. Initially he thought he was having a bad dream. He was in prison when an angel appeared and woke him up. His chains fell off and the angel led him out of the prison passed the guards and through the gate. The gate suddenly opens and they went right through. When the angel left him Peter came to himself and realized that God had delivered him. Even the disciples who were praying for him found it hard to believe what God had obviously done. When God answers prayer in an unexpected way, we often have difficulty recognizing His answer.
We would be amazed if we could see all that God does for us behind the scenes. I compare it to flying in an aircraft. The pilot is in constant contact with the air traffic controller who gives him the correct altitude and heading needed to ensure that the flight takes off, flies and lands safely. The passengers are sitting comfortably in their seats unaware of all that has to be done on their behalf behind the scenes. Likewise, heaven and earth is being moved in unexpected ways to accomplish God’s will in our lives. Ephesians 1:11 says “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.”
Learn to expect the unexpected from God. We want Him to but we really don’t expect Him to. Expectation is the characteristic of true faith. Hebrews 11:1 says “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hope is an absolute expectation that something good is coming. Hope is something that you can count on. When God does the unexpected we have difficulty believing what God is doing. If your hope is in God, you will find that He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above what you ask of Him.(Ephesians 3:20).
Christmas brings many pleasures; from putting up the Christmas tree to sharing the day with family and friends, to special music, exchanging gifts and good food to name only a few. Is that what you are experiencing this season? For some of you, personal problems are keeping you from experiencing the joy of the season. For others, you feel like one crisis after another has run you over making it difficult to enjoy the merry in the holidays. Some of you are so busy and working so hard that there is no time for sitting around a fire roasting chestnuts. Or, maybe there is not anything really wrong, but for some reason you are just not enjoying Christmas. It is not providing the emotional lift that you expected. Could it be that you are seeking the wrong thing?
What is it that you want to get out of Christmas? What is it that would make your Christmas wonderful and satisfying? Is it getting the family together? Is it finding the right present to give? Is it getting the present you have been hoping for? The problem with all of that is there is the opportunity that you will be disappointed. The problem is not Christmas. It is in your expectations. You are looking for the wrong thing. What is the right thing you should be looking for? The Christmas story tells us that the wise men went to Jerusalem looking for the new born babe who was born King of the Jews. They were looking for Jesus. Christmas for them was an opportunity to worship Jesus. That is what we need to be looking for and expecting this Christmas – an opportunity to worship our Lord and Savior. If our goal this Christmas is to worship Jesus, then I doubt very seriously if we will be dissatisfied with our experience. You may not be able to afford the right gift for a loved one or family members may be missing from your Christmas dinner table but Christmas is a time to remember the real reason for the season – the birth of Jesus Christ.
This season, keep your eyes and heart open for unexpected ways that God will reveal to you the hope of Christmas. Christmas can’t be bought from a store. Christmas is a time to remember the greatest gift God has ever given to man. The gift of Jesus satisfies every need that you will ever have. The gift of Jesus is not limited to just one day nor is it given to just one person. The gift of Jesus can be celebrated every day of the year by every person on this earth. Don’t be tempted to look for Christmas joy in a person, place or thing. Seek the only good and perfect gift that came from above – the gift of Jesus Christ. I promise you, if you do, you will have joy this Christmas.
Have you ever spent time searching for your glasses only to find them on top of your head? In the same way, we often miss the opportunities and blessings that are right in front of us. Sometimes we miss a ministry opportunity because we are looking for something in the spotlight rather than recognizing that sometimes the most significant and lasting ministry takes place out of the lime light or behind the scenes. Sometimes we miss a chance to show kindness to our next door neighbor. Or, in our rush to get a promotion, we miss the impact that a life of character will have on an impressionable youth who is watching how we do life. In our desire to be like one of our heroes, we may neglect to operate in the gift that God has given us to make our personal imprint on the world. Ultimately, if we are truly going to see the blessings and opportunities of God, we must always be under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Sometimes we don’t want to see something that is right in front of us because if we see it we will have to do something. So often people refuse to see Jesus because then they will have to either stand with Him or stand against Him. It is easier to simply pretend that we don’t see what is there right before us. Sometimes we miss what is in right in front of us because we are looking past it. Have you ever been out shopping and while you were thinking about what you were going to do next you walked right by someone you knew? You missed them because you were looking past them. It happens in life all the time. We become so focused on making a big impact in one place that we miss the significant impact we can make right where we presently are.
Pay Attention. Open your eyes to what is in front of you. God may be working and providing an opportunity, or extending a blessing to a hurting soul. At this time of year, many people feel overlooked and depression is widespread. You might be the person God has chosen to show someone that they are valuable. How amazing it would be if we let people know that we notice them. The key is not to have them see you but to see the love of God in you that loves them just the same. Don’t become too busy to see what is right in front of you. Don’t shut God out of your life and go through your days as if Jesus will not show up. Jesus is the One who has time for us even when we don’t have time for Him. Jesus is the One who is looking for us even if we are not looking for Him. He is the One who will replace our sadness with joy. If you have eyes, see the hand of God working in and through your life. The evidence is right in front of you.
Life is unpredictable. We never know what we will face from one day to the next. It is beyond our control. What we do control is our response to the trials before us. Are circumstances going to increase your faith or dampen your spirits? Will your attitude glorify God or be defined as full of doubt and fear? We must recognize that our trials are not about us, but about other people. Through our trails, God may be creating a situation to allow our response to be a testimony to someone else. God only gets the glory if we go through difficult situation with a heart that trusts God and with a mouth that never ceases to praise Him. We have to go through our trials and tribulations giving God the glory so that others will know that He is able. You have got to come to the ‘yet’ in your life, which means God hasn’t delivered you yet. Habakkuk 3:18 says “ Yet, I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation.”
A joyful attitude is a choice and is available to everyone and it comes through an intimate and personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. When you trust in God to be your strength, He will give you something that you cannot give yourself. When everyone else is looking at their obstacles, God makes our feet like hinds feet. We have the ability to go higher. We are able to see what others can’t see. Our trust and faith in God enables us to see beyond what is directly in front of us. We see ourselves overcoming every obstacle and it takes hinds feet to push us to that higher level, a level above the normal, a supernatural level. One moment we are facing destruction but suddenly things begin to turn around for our good. Joy is the evidence that we know our ‘yet’ surely will come because God is faithful and He is a promise keeper.
Faith’s answer to disappointment must always be: “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord. I will be joyful in the God of my salvation”. Being certain of the ‘yet’ will enable us to live above the circumstances instead of under them. ‘Yet’ holds onto faith even when nothing makes sense and when troubles seem more than you can bear. Fix your eyes upon the Lord when in discouraging circumstances and you will find a source of everlasting joy that will glorify God. No matter what others do, it is about what you choose to do when God hasn’t delivered you yet. It’s your choice….it’s all up to you!