Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Reasonable Expectations? ~ A Lenten Meditation

While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and began walking with them, but they were kept from recognizing him. Then he said, "What are these things you are talking about while you walk?"

The two followers stopped, looking very sad. The one named Cleopas answered, "Are you the only visitor in Jerusalem who does not know what just happened there?"
Jesus said to them, "What are you talking about?"

They said, "About Jesus of Nazareth. He was a prophet who said and did many powerful things before God and all the people. Our leaders and the leading priests handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him. But we were hoping that he would free Israel. Besides this, it is now the third day since this happened. And today some women among us amazed us. Early this morning they went to the tomb, but they did not find his body there. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels who said that Jesus was alive! (Luke 24:15-23, NCV)

It's fascinating to contemplate during the holiest season of the Christian calendar, what sort of expectations were placed on this Person we celebrate. Jesus came into the world at a time when Israel had been oppressed and persecuted by the Romans for at least 60 years. Hundreds of prophecies appeared in the Old Testament pointing to a coming Messiah or "Annointed One" who would resume the kingly rule of David's family and usher in peace.

Given the conditions of that time, Jesus' followers fully expected Him to overthrow the Roman rule and set up an earthly kingdom, fulfilling the ancient prophecies. You can imagine their astonishment and disappointment when Jesus was crucified. At least 12 individuals had given up their homes and livelihoods just to follow this Messiah! What would they do now that He was executed?

But as so often happens, God had an even better plan. Their faith in Jesus was not in vain. His rule as Messiah merely came in a form much different from what they had expected. He did fulfill every one of those ancient prophecies, most of which he could not manipulate or control. And had they paid attention to ALL of the prophecies, they would have realized that his crucifixion had to take place. (See Deuteronomy 21:23, Isaiah 53:1-5) The kingdom He established was eternal! He conquered not an earthly invader, but death! Only by the power of the Holy Spirit were His disciples' eyes opened up to the amazing implications of what had happened.

As parents of kids with special needs, how strongly we can identify with that world of disappointed expectations! How many of us have had the wonderful poem "Welcome to Holland" (see http://www.our-kids.org/Archives/Holland.html) presented to us along our journey? How many times have we hoped a treatment would work to no avail? How often have we thought that a given school or program would be our arrival at a level path, a time of coasting in our struggles with our kids? How much shock and pain have we experienced as friends, family or even a spouse have fallen short of what we desired?

Perhaps, like the disciples, we need to realize that God has an even better plan for us and our children. Problems may get solved, but in a completely different way than we had anticipated. Being open to other ideas, to change, and to not always having things done exactly the way we desire can end up blessing our families in the long run. Prying our sweaty, rigid fingers off of the need to always be in control of a life that seems completely out-of-control can lead us to a fuller, more peaceful life. Seeing the good that can come out of our trials can give us unexpected joy and redeem our suffering.

When Jesus was at Gethsemane before He was crucified, there was no doubt that He was bearing a tremendous weight. In fact, a "gethsemane" is a heavy stone used for pressing olives to render their oil. Not only the torture facing Him, but the pressure of the intense expectations placed on Him were a burden any of us would be crushed in facing.

In the same way, the outcomes we anticipate can unwittingly be an onerous load on our children. Challenging the way we think may be the greatest gift we can give to ourselves and our families as we journey along the dynamic path of special needs parenting. May this time of the year, renew your hope and free you from the bondage of unfulfilled expectations!

PRAY:  Lord, help us to let go of our preconceived notions and expectations in exchange for Your better plan.  Strengthen us when our perseverance waivers.

~ Barb Dittrich

1 comment:

  1. This was wonderful, Barb. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.