Great Expectations

Great Expectations Featured Art

Perhaps you are familiar with Charles Dickens’ novel, Great Expectations. Pip, the main characters had expectations. He thought that wealth, education, and social status would help him be somebody. Unfortunately, he learned that this was not the case.

Unfulfilled Expectations

Many of us expect things in our lives that never come to pass. Perhaps, we expect our marriage to be fantastic, and it fails. That fantastic job becomes a nightmare. Those great children make choices that we don’t approve of. The friends that we encounter prove to be selfish. My life, as well as yours, has been full of unfulfilled hopes and dreams.

Sometimes those hopes are realistic, but often our great expectations are just pipe dreams. Our minds have created a fantasy world that we try to live in, but there is no magic that can hold it together. Often, those failures come from placing unrealistic expectations on other people around us.

Great Expectations of God

Sometimes we even have great expectations of God. We think or believe that God should act in ways that we think are proper. Because of the culture we grew up in, we think that God should do certain things. Many times we base it on a perceived promise we read in scripture. We pray and expect God to respond just because we prayed.

What then do we do when God fails to meet our great expectations of Him? Some drastically turn away from Him. They feel that He failed them. Others might just stop expecting anything from God. Then others, and I sometimes find myself in this camp, will find ways to give God “an out.” That usually involves something along the lines of “if it’s Thy will” in our prayers.

The Children of Israel Had Great Expectations

The other day I was reading in the Bible book of First Samuel. As they had many times in their history, the people of Israel were at war with the Philistines. At this point in the story, the Philistines, as we might say in my area of the country, had whupped their britches. Now, the people were trying to figure out what to do.

Then, someone had the brilliant idea of bringing the Ark of the Covenant out to the battle field. To the people of Israel, the Ark represented the very presence of God. They thought that if the Ark was present that God Himself would be right there with them. Right away they sent for the Ark and before long it came into the camp.

With its coming, the soldiers raised a mighty shout. Now, they had great expectations for victory. Even their enemy heard the shout and learning the meaning behind it, they also expected to lose. Certainly, the only choice the Philistines felt they had was to buckle down and fight harder. And, the Philistines won the battle. They even took the Ark of the Covenant home with them. That didn’t last long, but that’s another story.

The Truth About Great Expectations

In many ways, the children of Israel were like us. They used a bit of logic to bolster their great expectations. If God’s presence is with the Ark, and the Ark is with us, then God is with us. Then, if God is with us, we have to win. Wrong.

The Bible is very clear that God’s ways are not our ways. His thoughts are so much higher than our thoughts. Jesus even declined one of Satan’s tests because God doesn’t act on command. He doesn’t do because we desire it. God acts according to purposes that we cannot even begin to comprehend.

We fare far better when we act according to God’s great expectations of us. We see God at work when our prayers, our desires, line up with His desires. I believe that God loves to act on behalf of His children, but it’s out of His will and not our own.

So, instead of acting as if God owes us, we should yield ourselves to Him, to His leadership. We serve well when we align our lives with His will.

God has great expectations of us. May we seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, allowing Him to have His will and way. Then, we will see Him at work in and through us.

A Hymn of Surrender To God’s Will

All to Jesus I surrender,
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.

All to Jesus I surrender,
Make me, Savior, wholly Thine;
Let me feel Thy Holy Spirit,
Truly know that Thou art mine.

All to Jesus I surrender,
Lord, I give myself to Thee;
Fill me with Thy love and power,
Let Thy blessing fall on me.

I surrender all, I surrender all;
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.

“I Surrender All” by Judson W. Van De Venter (1896)



Read this story of Israel and the Philistines in 1 Samuel 4.

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You may also be interested in these articles as well: God in Our Image or A Formula for a Good Life.