Sometimes things don't turn out the way we expect. In fact usually they don't. Sometimes it's a disappointment. We loved the book and counted the days until the movie came out but we're all mad because they changed the ending and cast a short blonde instead of a tall brunette and cut our favorite scene. Sometimes the unexpected is a good thing. How many times is waiting for an unpleasant event much, much worse than actually doing the thing? Sometimes we think something is going to be a trial, but instead it's a joy. And sometimes things turn out neither better nor worse than we expected just different.
But what I'm thinking about right now is the kind of expectation that ties in invisibly with our wishes.
I wonder how I would have felt if, when I was little, someone had told me that someday I'd have a unicorn. I would kept an eye out every single day waiting for her to show up. I would have fantasized about all the things we would do together. I would brush her glorious mane and ride her around wearing my flowing dresses. We would sit in green meadows looking picturesque and princessy. In fact I would probably get an honorary crown because how could a girl own unicorn and not be the princess of something?
|Eunice the Unicorn|
But, as you might have guessed, no one ever told me I would be getting a unicorn, so I wasn't disappointed but amused when Eunice came along. I wasn't expecting her so I had no dreams of princessing around to be crushed by her blatant goatiness. She didn't have a mane to brush and if I don't have any flowing unicorn-riding dresses anyway.
But there have been times when I have expected unicorns. I thought a unicorn was coming, and it came, but in the form of a one-horned goat.
It's so hard not to be disappointed. Especially when I allow the ugly joy-stealer of comparison to have an opinion about it. But while I was thinking about Eunice and her unconventional unicorn ways, I wondered what the Bible had to say about expectation.
There are lots of quotes and quips lurking around that talk about expectation. Shakespeare said "Expectation is the root of all heartache." Someone else said "What screws us up most in life is the picture in our head of how it is supposed to be."
There are some truth in those statements and others like them, but it seems rather bleak, doesn't it? So what does the Bible say?
The Bible doesn't talk about expectation as much as it does about hope.
Psalm 62:5 For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.
Philippians 1:20 As it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.
Proverbs 24:14 Know that wisdom is such to your soul; if you find it, there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off.
Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
And I am reminded of something. That if we delight ourselves in The Lord He will give us the desires of our hearts. If my delight is in Him then my hope submits to His perfect plan. My expectations can take a backseat to hope. When God blesses us with a one-horned goat instead of mythical beauty, we can serve up our displaced expectation, or even our disappointment, as worship. We can be thankful that, whatever the outcome, He has our best interest at heart. Even when we don't understand. Even when it's different than what He's done for others. He never lets us down. Every single thing that He allows, gives, takes away, or prevents comes from his inestimable love. Even, and maybe especially, when it's not what we expected.