a. 1 Peter 1:16 Lev. 11:44,45; 19:2
Expectations. They can be the bane of our very existence. Nothing can make us feel worse about our circumstances than having them not measure up to what we had hoped for.
Those expectations can be on overdrive when we carry inside of us a sense of entitlement. It almost seems to be a sinful default hardwired inside our hearts that makes us believe that the world owes us something if we have encountered any magnitude of hardship in our lives. "I deserve it," seems to be the mantra of encouragement we warmly welcome, especially in times of adversity. No one thinks twice if a parent raising a child with a disability proclaims, "I deserve a break," "I deserve some nice clothes," "I deserve a day at the spa salon." Because we carry an extra measure of responsibility, we are owed an equal measure of delight. Life is unkind to us, and we deserve better, so we rationalize.
The problem is that this chip on our shoulder transfers over to our relationship with God. Our expectation, often our DEMAND, is that the Maker of the Universe cater to our will and desire. We attach conditions to His love, "If God is loving, He wants me to be happy. And I will only be happy if my income is at this level, and my children behave in this way, and my spouse relentlessly adores me." Inevitably, the temporal pleasures of this world disappoint and we find ourselves disillusioned with God. Tragedy comes knocking at the door and we deem God cruel.
He calls us out on our bewildered self-absorption in Isaiah 45:9:
Woe to the man who fights with his Creator. Does the pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with him who forms it, saying, “Stop, you’re doing it wrong!” or the pot exclaim, “How clumsy can you be!”? (TLB)We seem to misinterpret that lavish, abundant life that Jesus claims to give, defining it on our terms and not His.
God talks hundreds of times about holiness in His word, yet He never once promises to make us feel good. Take note of that! God desires our HOLINESS, not our happiness. Throughout our lives, as we cooperate with Him, He is conforming us more and more into the image of Jesus, reflecting His glory. (See 2 Corinthians 3:18)
Unfortunately this collides with our worldly expectations, because the process of being made holy leads right through the heart of adversity. He increases our patience by making us wait. He demonstrates His provision by making us go without. He grows our faith by ushering us through the depths of fear. He increases our kindness by having us experience hurt.
The sooner we cooperate with God's plans to make us holy, the more quickly receive contentment as a byproduct. When we fight God, He wisely continues to discipline us until we are broken in like a wild horse. If we continue to rebel, He will eventually let us have things our own way, which never yields a good outcome.
While the challenges of this life can weigh us down, we do well to remember that the Lord uses those challenges to move us closer toward that goal of holiness. And as the Apostle Paul encouraged, "What we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later." (Romans 8:18, NLT)
PRAY: Magnificent Maker, remind me that I am the created and not the Creator. Soften my will to yield to Yours. Increase my cooperation as You grow me in holiness. Grant me the contentment of fully surrendering to You rather than the fleeting feelings that come from having my own way.
~ Barb Dittrich