Expectation and Disappointment ~ 20081214~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

12/14 Expectation and Disappointment

Christmas a time of Expectation

Expectation usually leads to Disappointment

Even if you get what you want, there is Disappointment

Disappointment indicates that Expectations were Misplaced

What you Want may not be what will Truly Satisfy

Expectation properly placed Produces Joy

Christmas a time of Expectation

The holidays are upon us. Holidays are a time of expectation. Christmas decorations began showing up in October. Travel plans are made. Houses are decorated. Electric bills go up. Presents are purchased. Carols fill the air. Good things to eat. Pictures. Baked goods. Cards. Sweets. Memories. Snow is falling. Something of childhood wonder is awakened in us. Expectation of good things. The excitement in our children's eyes. I wonder what will be under the tree this year! I wonder what the new year will bring.

Expectation usually leads to Disappointment

On the way to preschool last week, Hannah told me what she wants for Christmas. A pony. I asked if she wanted a pink one or a green one – one about this big that she can put in her pocket. She said 'no, daddy, I want a real live one that I can ride on'. If she is really expecting a real live pony on Christmas morning, she's going to be disappointed. That's the problem. Expectation usually leads to disappointment in one form or another. We never quite get what we want.

We have expectations for special occasions. I hope the whole family will be together for the holidays. I hope mom makes her famous Jello salad. It won't be the same if there's no hot apple pie and home made ice cream. I hope the relatives don't fight. I hope I can get a decent parking spot. I need more time off from work to spend with my family. I need more overtime hours. We have to have snow on the ground.

We have expectation in relationships. I just wanted someone I could share my heart with. I was hoping he could meet my needs. I thought we would spend less time with the in-laws. I just wanted to be held. Does she have to spend so much time on the phone? Isn't it reasonable to expect at least a card on Valentine's day? I was looking forward to a romantic getaway. I thought once I was married I would no longer have to battle lust. 'Give me children or I die'.

We have expectation for the future. Will the economy improve? Will the people in power make wise and Godly decisions? Will we retain our freedom? Will I have anything left for retirement? Will I be healthy enough to enjoy it?

Even if you get what you want, there is Disappointment

Sometimes even when we get exactly what we want, there is disappointment. The toy that your child 'had to have' is now lying in the back of the closet neglected. After 6 months of marriage, it's not all that you anticipated. Or maybe it's more than you anticipated. The one more thing that you needed you now have and it isn't bringing the satisfaction you expected. The heightened expectation of the holiday season can lead to a heightened sense of disappointment and disillusionment. What do we do when expectation seems to lead without fail to disappointment?

As the Dread Pirate Roberts tells Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride 'get used to disappointment'.

Later he tells princess Buttercup 'Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.'

Do we simply respond to disappointment by no longer getting our hopes up? Do we protect ourselves from being crushed with disappointment by lowering our expectations and settling for less than the ideal? Do we become cynical and lose our sense of wonder? Do we conclude that there can be no sense of satisfaction in this life?

Disappointment indicates that Expectations were misplaced

I don't think cynicism is a healthy response or a biblical response. I think disappointment is a God-given response to indicate that our expectations are not in the right place. Physical pain is a God given sensation to tell us that the thing causing the pain has the potential to do permanent damage – when you touch the pan that just came out of the oven the pain tells you to recoil quickly or there will be consequences. In the same way, disappointment is indicator that our expectations were in the wrong place and we should quickly take action to adjust our expectations and place our hope in the right thing. Cynicism is a medication that merely numbs the emotional pain without doing anything to cure the disease.

What you want may not be what will truly satisfy

When expectation ends in disappointment, we must learn from the pain that what we want may not be what will truly satisfy. Praise God that sometimes he destroys our contentment with the half-hearted pleasures this world offers so that we will pursue our fulfillment in Him.

God can strip our expectations so that we hope in Him

Let's look at Jeremiah and Job, two extreme examples of hopes dashed by God which resulted in more focused hope in God. Job is a man whose expectations for life were decimated, and we are told that God did it.

Job 19:8 He has walled up my way, so that I cannot pass, and he has set darkness upon my paths. (his hopes for the future are gone) 9 He has stripped from me my glory and taken the crown from my head. 10 He breaks me down on every side, and I am gone, and my hope has he pulled up like a tree. (his personal pride is gone) 11 He has kindled his wrath against me and counts me as his adversary. 12 His troops come on together; they have cast up their siege ramp against me and encamp around my tent. (he feels that even God is against him) 13 “He has put my brothers far from me, and those who knew me are wholly estranged from me. 14 My relatives have failed me, my close friends have forgotten me. 15 The guests in my house and my maidservants count me as a stranger; I have become a foreigner in their eyes. 16 I call to my servant, but he gives me no answer; I must plead with him with my mouth for mercy. 17 My breath is strange to my wife, and I am a stench to the children of my own mother. 18 Even young children despise me; when I rise they talk against me. 19 All my intimate friends abhor me, and those whom I loved have turned against me. (even his most intimate relationships have failed to comfort him) 20 My bones stick to my skin and to my flesh, and I have escaped by the skin of my teeth. (even his health has failed him)

God uprooted Job's hopes in relationships, in friends and family, in his health, in his future, and yet in the midst of his utter despair, Job cries out:

23 “Oh that my words were written! Oh that they were inscribed in a book! 24 Oh that with an iron pen and lead they were engraved in the rock forever! 25 For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. 26 And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, 27 whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!

When all was ripped away, Job's hope was in God. Job's expectations were reduced to the single thing that can satisfy – the presence of God.

Or consider Jeremiah. Jeremiah, like Job, suffered severe disappointment and depression. He was called to preach to unrepentant Israel and he wept over Jerusalem as it was destroyed and the people were carried off into captivity. And Jeremiah, like Job, attributed his despair to the action of God.

Lamentations 3:1 I am the man who has seen affliction under the rod of his wrath; 2 he has driven and brought me into darkness without any light; 3 surely against me he turns his hand again and again the whole day long. 4 He has made my flesh and my skin waste away; he has broken my bones; 5 he has besieged and enveloped me with bitterness and tribulation; 6 he has made me dwell in darkness like the dead of long ago. (his physical and emotional health were destroyed) 7 He has walled me about so that I cannot escape; he has made my chains heavy; 8 though I call and cry for help, he shuts out my prayer; 9 he has blocked my ways with blocks of stones; he has made my paths crooked. (he has no hope for the future) 10 He is a bear lying in wait for me, a lion in hiding; 11 he turned aside my steps and tore me to pieces; he has made me desolate; 12 he bent his bow and set me as a target for his arrow. 13 He drove into my kidneys the arrows of his quiver; 14 I have become the laughingstock of all peoples, the object of their taunts all day long. (relationships failed him) 15 He has filled me with bitterness; he has sated me with wormwood. 16 He has made my teeth grind on gravel, and made me cower in ashes; 17 my soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; 18 so I say, “My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the LORD.” 19 Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall! 20 My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me.

What a grueling description of hope extinguished; despair and deep depression. But look what he writes when he is brought to his lowest point:

21 But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: 22 The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; 23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24 “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” 25 The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. 26 It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. 27 It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. 28 Let him sit alone in silence when it is laid on him; 29 let him put his mouth in the dust–– there may yet be hope; 30 let him give his cheek to the one who strikes, and let him be filled with insults. 31 For the Lord will not cast off forever, 32 but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love;

Jeremiah, like Job, found that when all else was stripped away, God's goodness found the most eloquent expression.

Expectation properly placed produces Joy

Expectation, when misplaced ends in disappointment and despair. Expectation placed in the proper object, brings true joy. That proper object is God himself and no one or no thing else. As the Psalmist says:

Psalm 43:5 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. (cf. Psalm 42:5-6, 11)

Psalm 39:7 “And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.

Psalm 147:11 but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love. (cf. Psalm 33:18)

Our greatest expectation and hope is to be with God, to worship God, to be the recipient of his steadfast love. All other things are empty substitutes for God who alone can satisfy our deepest longings.

Paul had a single focus for his existence:

Philippians 1:20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.

Paul's single focus, his eager expectation and hope was that Christ get honor from his existence. That Jesus be worshiped as a result of his life or death. The thing that exceeded all other things, the thing that was his driving passion was to be with Jesus. But he was willing to postpone that ultimate satisfaction if fruitful labor for the benefit of believers would bring more worship to Jesus.


During this time of expectation and hope, let us find our fulfillment in Jesus. As we make preparation for the holidays, let us remember that to place our hope in anyone or anything or any event other than Jesus will lead to disappointment. Nothing but being in his presence worshiping him as a recipient of his steadfast love can satisfy the deepest longings of the human heart. All of life must fall under this theme; hope in God! My prayer for all of you this season is that you have a very fulfilling Christmas and a fruitful New Year as you '... set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.' (1 Peter 1:13)