All of us have expectations. We have expectations of ourselves, our spouses, our kids, our churches, our friends, careers, our government, and many other things. And, for most of us these expectations are high. In general, that is a good thing. High expectations often motivate us and other people. But, what happens when those high expectations are misguided of just flat wrong? Unfounded disappointment occurs.
Matthew 11 begins with a story about an interaction between John the Baptist’s disciples and Jesus. From prison, John the Baptist sent several of his disciples to ask Jesus a question, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another” (11:2)? This question, I believe, tells us something about John. He was disappointed in Jesus. He had spent his life preparing the way for Jesus, and his heart had leapt for joy when he saw Jesus approach the Jordan River for baptism. He had seen the Holy Spirit descend upon Jesus and had heard the voice of God from heaven after he had baptized Jesus. But now, he was in prison, and he wasn’t scheduled for release any time soon. He, along with many others, had prepared themselves for the triumphant arrival of God’s kingdom in Jesus. Prison was not part of the plan. So, he sent word to Jesus saying, “I thought you were the one. What happened? Are you really who I thought you were?”
Jesus told the messengers, “Go and tell John what you hear and see, the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them” (11:6). The proof of Jesus’ messiahship was in the work he was accomplishing. Jesus was fulfilling the prophecy. He was indeed the one for whom the people waited.
John’s problem was that he had misguided expectations. He expected a physical kingdom in which God would bring deliverance for the people of Israel. He expected to be freed from prison. But, he was mistaken. He had misinterpreted the prophets. He had placed misguided and unrealistic expectations on Jesus. And now, he was terribly disappointed.
This same thing happens to us often, doesn’t it? We think that God is supposed to do a certain thing, that he is supposed to act a certain way, that he is to reward a certain type of behavior, that he is supposed to deal with hardships and struggles in our lives by either removing or lessening them. But, most often these expectations aren’t in line with what God has promised to do or congruent with the way in which he has revealed his character. The result of unmet expectations is disappointment with God. But, the issue is not with God. It is with us and our misguided expectations.
The fix to our misguided expectations is the development of biblical expectations of God. God has revealed himself to us. We do this by studying his word and by evaluating our expectations in light of what his word reveals about his character and the way he acts in our lives. Think today about your expectations of God. Are they biblical or are they misguided and unbiblical?