By Sharon Gamble
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have
trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” —John 16:33 NIV
It was early in our marriage, and we were visiting my parents. We’d been there a couple of hours, and I was settling in for the day. My husband Ray, however, seemed restless, and I couldn’t understand why. Turns out, he had expected a one-hour visit and had made plans for the rest of the day. What!? I was shocked. Neither of us had even considered the possibility that the other was thinking differently about the time we’d spend there. Our expectations were confidently laid, just “knowing” the other felt the same. Well. We had a rather heated discussion on the way home—and quickly realized we needed to do a better job of laying out our expectations in advance should we wish to avoid more such conversations.
Expectations are dangerous little feelings of entitlement that can lead to a lot of discord, not only in relationships but also in our souls. Somehow, we have this silly idea that life is supposed to sail along smoothly and others will see things the way we see them. Neither of these ideas is true. Life does not often conform to our expectations, even for normalcy, let alone niceties. And people are often troublesome, coming up with ideas totally on their own and not at all like ours. It’s downright annoying. But there we are. Jesus told His disciples something we all need to accept: “In this world you will have trouble.”
Yup. Trouble. The truth is, normal doesn’t exist. Instead, life is a series of ups and downs that seem quite unpredictable. We plan a vacation – someone gets sick and we have to cancel. The house is about to be paid off and then the roof needs replacing. We decide the right way to spend money is to save it – our spouse has other ideas. Our plan is for one thing, and what happens is entirely different.
Let’s stop elevating our expectations to demands! Putting our hopes and expectations on people or circumstances is never wise. Instead, let’s be joyfully surprised when we come to a happy part of our journey—and accept troubles when they inevitably show up, turning to God for help navigating them. Let’s start expecting that people will sometimes let us down—and be ready to forgive. They are not perfect, and neither are we. The Bible is full of reminders to forgive because God knew people would disappoint us and need forgiveness.
Instead of expectations, how about we develop trust in the One who will be with us no matter what the current twist in the road might be? Jesus declares in John 16:33: “ … in me you may have peace.” That’s right. Walking with Him, knowing He lives within us, guiding us through those ups and downs? That’s where we find peace. We can “take heart” despite the current messiness of life because Jesus has overcome this world of trouble and someday will lead us to our forever home where every expectation will be finally met—and we will see and experience more than we could ever ask or imagine. Until then, let’s give grace to others’ expectations, like my husband and I have learned to do since that day long ago, visiting my parents.
Heavenly Father, forgive me for the times I put my trust in fallible humans and circumstances instead of in You. Help me to hold tightly to Your competent hand as I navigate the inevitable troubles in my life. Thank You for the sure hope of Heaven and the truth that You have, indeed, overcome the world! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Sharon Gamble’s driving purpose is to see Christian women carve out quiet spaces to meet with God, to know Him, and to love Him more and more. That God-given passion led her to establish Sweet Selah Ministries, devoted to giving women encouragement and tools to take time out of their busy, busy lives to “be still” with the One who loves them most.
A frequent speaker at ladies’ groups and conferences, Sharon posts fun, inspiring blogs on her website, SweetSelah.org, co-hosts The Sweet Selah Moments Podcast, and offers online Bible studies through social media. Her published books are Sweet Selah Moments, Give Me Wings to Soar, and Loved: A Bible Study of the Gospel of John.