I was involved in a movement some years ago that would constantly boast in having “aggressive expectations” and equating that way of thinking to “having faith.” Aside from the vast misunderstanding of what faith in God means (to trust in Him no matter what happens) one of the problems with that ideology is that many times our expectations in this life are left unfulfilled or unmet completely. People fail us. Plans fall through. They went with a different candidate for the job. We experience month after month of negative pregnancy tests.
Since God’s plans and ways are so much greater than our own, often our expectations do not look anything like what God may have for our life. When our expectations that we have held onto so aggressively fall flat, it is very easy for us to slip into disappointment. Disappointment can then often lead to complaining and discontentment, something we are commanded by scripture to guard our hearts from. We very quickly forget the truth of God’s sovereignty over all things when we believe we know what is best for our life.
When God allows for disappointment to happen in our life, we must remember that all things that come are way are meant to cultivate the fruit of the Spirit in us and conform us into the image of Christ, whether we were expecting them to happen or not. When we are disappointed, we are given an appointment to praise God no matter what.
The Psalmist David proclaims in Psalm 34:
“I will bless the Lord at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth (Psalm 34:1, NKJV).
When our expectations are met, we should stop and praise God and bless His holy name; When our expectation are not met, we should still stop and praise God and bless His holy name. He is worthy of our praise and our thanksgiving. In His sovereign providence, we can trust that He works all things for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes (Romans 8:28). Nothing with God is coincidence or happenstance; He is sovereign and in control of every detail in our life, guiding our every step. His work in our lives is providential through and through, and He causes all things to work out for our good and for His glory. Next time your expectations are not met, remember it is an opportunity to make an appointment for praising God for His goodness. We can trust that His plans for our life are so much better!
I am struggling with disappointment. Help me to guard my heart from discouragement, discontentment, and complaining. Teach me how to find ways to praise You when my expectations are not met. I know I need to trust in Your sovereignty and lean upon Your ways over my own. Your grace is sufficient for me, and I thank You for always guiding me into truth and convicting my heart when I fall into the sin grumbling and complaining, thinking that I know better than You. My lips long to praise Your great name. Thank You for Your love for me and for changing my heart to reflect Yours. I pray You would use these unmet expectations to transform me and strengthen my faith in You. In Jesus’ name, amen.
I am convinced that sleep deprivation from the baby/toddler phase is the mom version of fasting. My flesh becomes so weakened and my reliance upon God becomes absolutely everything. I cannot help but rely on His grace to do pretty much anything. If you count third trimester lack of sleep from the uncomfortableness and countless trips of waddling to the bathroom, I literally haven’t slept through the night in almost two years. This isn’t hyperbole- my 17-month-old has NEVER slept through the night. My middle son took 25 months to do so- which was only six months before my youngest was born. It’s been an extremely physically and mentally (and often emotionally) trying season that has lasted years.
I don’t share all of this to complain or receive sympathy or ask for advice. I share to remind you (and myself) that the Lord is near to those suffering and in that suffering, He brings unspeakable joy that is not dependent upon our circumstances. No matter how overwhelming it may feel, His grace is sufficient in your weakness. Lean upon Him, and He will strengthen you and transform you in your suffering to look more like Him.
When I was praying the other night in the midnight hours during the on and off wakings (awakened every one-two hours because of his teething pain and what I can assume is the 18 month sleep regression), I said “God, I know he is a gift…please help me.” And as I reflect upon this trying season, I’m realizing the ways my son is a gift from the Father, along with all my children, of course. I cannot help but praise God in the midst of my pain for the Lord’s faithfulness to me. Even though my circumstances have not changed, He is changing me. I am encouraged by these verses in Psalm 30 to give thanks and remember that joy always comes in the morning:
“Sing praise to the Lord, you His godly ones, And give thanks to His holy name. For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning.”Psalm 30:4-5, NASB
When my flesh is weak because of the difficulties that come with this season of motherhood, and I am humbled to my knees, by God’s grace, I am able to bear fruit and walk in the Spirit in a way that pleases the Lord. Instead of asking God to rescue me from my weeping and struggles with my son’s sleep, I find myself thanking God through tears of joy for this sleep deprivation. Suffering is a gift and with it comes joy and a heart full of praise to God for His faithfulness. May we ask the Lord for eyes to see our suffering in that way.
Heavenly Father, I’m weary and hurting. I have asked so many times for this suffering to be removed and for You to rescue me from this storm. I feel depleted. I feel like I’m drowning. But I realize that You have not called me to live by my feelings or by what I see happening around me; You have called me to walk by faith. And as my faith in You rises up in me, I trust that You have me exactly where I am supposed to be- totally dependent upon Your grace. In my weakness, I know that You are my strength. I praise You in my pain, and I ask that You would use this trial, this suffering, this storm to change me to look more like Christ- all for Your glory. I know that I may endure weeping in the night, but Your joy always comes- a joy that is not dependent upon my circumstances but is everlasting and sustaining even in the darkest of nights. Thank You for Your nearness to me in my greatest time of need and pain. You are a faithful Father, and I am so thankful to receive Your mercy and be called Your child. In Jesus’ name, amen.