Monday, January 26, 2015

God-Size Disappointments

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

I once read a discussion among ancient Rabbis about expectations. It wasn’t long before it filtered down to two thoughts: 1, If we keep Torah, additional blessing follow, and 2, If we keep Torah, the blessing is that we have kept Torah.

Christ followers are like that too. Some say that I’m a child of God therefore, I’ll have a great marriage, a healthy reserve of funds, well-behaved children, and freedom from major problems, especially sickness.

The truth of the matter is that most of us are tilted toward the side of expecting blessing for our obedience. What happens when God fails to meet our expectations? Unfortunately for some, like the “Rich, Young Ruler” who went to Jesus, they go away sorrowfully. 

We are not alone when it comes to unfulfilled expectations. None other than John the Lutheran [I mean, Baptist], the forerunner of Jesus, struggled with unfulfilled expectations. His sermons were about a Messiah who would usher in a kingdom of power and justice, Instead, he languished in a dungeon on the Machaerus, a fortress/palace that Herod the Great had built on a mountain top in the blistering wilderness near the Dead Sea [in what is today the country of Jordan].

Jesus hardly met the Jewish expectation of a political leader who would crush the rule of Rome, send their army back to Italy, and set up His kingdom of righteousness and justice. And being unable to reconcile the contradiction, John cried out from his prison cell, “Are You the Expected One, or is it someone else?” [Matthew 11:3]

Life doesn’t always turn out as we would like. Some times things do turn around, but not in a timely fashion, so we think. When that happens, it can trigger a God-Size Disappointment. When we find ourselves most disappointed with God, is it God who has failed, or is it that our expectations about what God should do has failed us?

My encouragement for you today is to not assume that the Bible doesn’t “work” when things don’t go your way. God sees the “big picture” so we must come to grips with the limitation of our understanding. Stated another way, we must embrace the unlimited understanding of God and, as Paul said, “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” [1 Thessalonians 5:18]. 

Our inability to understand God should give cause to worship Him, not doubt Him. If His thoughts and ways were like ours, there would be no reason to worship Him. By the way, Jesus challenged John to consider his expectations. His gentle exhortation is good advice for us to: “And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me” [Matthew 11:6].

My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9 [New Living Translation]

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