“This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you.” – Psalms 91:2-7

Charles Dickens penned Great Expectations, one of the most famous novels of all time. In this book, Dickens says, “suffering has been stronger than all other teaching, and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be. I have been bent and broken, but – I hope – into a better shape.”

Everybody deals with expectations, whether your own or somebody else’s. Expectations can be positive or negative. When we receive Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, we also bring some expectations into that relationship. Those expectations can be heightened when reading a verse like Jeremiah 29:11: ““For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” It is hard to read Psalm 91:2-7 (above) and not develop some expectations as well.

Our expectations are that if we believe and live correctly, we’ll have great marriages, healthy bank balances, well-balanced children, and freedom from major problems. Psalm 91 (above) says God will “shelter you with his wings” and that His promises are your “armor and protection.”  The simple truth is that our lives will be filled with difficulties and disappointments. God didn’t pretend otherwise. Neither should we. Our present trials, challenges, and hardships are also part of God’s plan for us.

Those 70 years the Israelites were stuck in Babylon had their purpose. Likewise, whatever circumstance or situation we find ourselves in today is not meaningless either. We serve a God who knows everything there is to know. He “knows all human plans” (Psalm 94:11) and He “knows those who are his” (2 Timothy 2:19). He knows us deeply and loves us more than we can ever know. God promises us He has things well in hand. He just wants us to know, “I have it all planned out” (Jeremiah 29:11, MSG).

God assures us that however dire things may appear at the moment, he doesn’t “plan to hurt  you” (ERV). Nor will he “abandon you” (MSG). His plan is good for you and for your good. Harm is the last thing he has in mind. 

Living without expectations is not easy. But it is worth the try. We can try to be surprised by every gift that God decides to give, knowing that He has already given me the most beautiful and exciting gift of all, a hope, a future and His love.

“See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him. Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is. And all who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, just as he is pure. (1 John 3:1-3)

Discussion Questions:

  1. How have expectations influenced your life in positive or negative ways? What are some things people expect from God?
  2. What kind of expectations should we have when it comes to our relationship with God today?
  3. What is the difference between an expectation and a promise? How do we differentiate between God’s promises and our expectations? 
  4. Christians will live at the intersection of hurt and hope. How do we live hopeful – believing that God is going to be faithful to His promises – in a world of so much hurt?