This Isn't What I Signed Up For

Have you ever turned the water on and stepped into the shower expecting nice hot water, only to find it freezing cold? Or have you ever turned the hair dryer on expecting it to run smoothly only to find out that the fuse was burnt?

Is this the life God intended for you? Is this all there is?

It's a terrible feeling. It's the weight of failed expectations. You thought your life would be different by now. You thought you'd be married, or you'd already have a couple of kids. Perhaps you thought you'd be in your dream job by now, and your life would be well on its way. You thought married life would be different, richer; instead, you spend your days driving little people to many places, still wondering about the meaning of life, and frustrated with, well, everyone. Is this the life God intended for you? Is this all there is?

My struggle with failed expectations peaked in the years after God called me to full-time ministry. Those years became the hardest years of my life. To say that I didn't expect the road to become difficult is an understatement. I thought the greatest test of my faith had taken place the moment I accepted God's call to ministry. I quickly found out that accepting God's invitation was actually the easiest step in the process.

I expected God to deliver. I expected God to open doors for me. I expected success, and greater fruitfulness, and all kinds of blessings to honor the sacrifices I had made for Jesus. Instead, before I knew it, God had transplanted me to Chicago, where the winters are long and the cold piercing. God had just plopped me in the wilderness familiar to all who have ever heeded His call.

Instead of wide open doors, I got used to the sound of them slamming shut in my face. Soon the initial glow of my "yes" to God's call turned into a senseless repetitive prayer that sounded a little bit like this: "Why me, Lord? Why me Lord?"

God is committed to destroying expectations until He alone becomes the one and only thing our heart longs for. He does it because He knows that only He can satisfy us completely.

While I had expected him to use me, He was committed to make me usable. While I had expected him to honor my obedience, He was committed to making me honorable for His sake. While I had expected outward results, God was interested in internal heart change.

It's a funny thing about expectations. We all have them, and God is committed to destroying them until He alone becomes the one and only thing our heart longs for. He does it because He knows that only He can satisfy us completely.

Disappointment occurs when our destiny doesn't line up with our dreams. One of the greatest crisis in our faith will take place when our hopes seem to fail, our dreams delay, and we think God is unaware of how terribly hurt we feel. If God can do anything, we reason, and doesn't, then He must not really care. And if God can't do anything about our situation, then is He really God at all? As the questions linger, the distance separating us from the Lord widens until we hardly recognize Him anymore.

It's a dangerous place to be.

As our own human expectations are destroyed and radically transplanted by the truth of Jesus Christ that we will find in Him the answers we are desperately seeking and the joy we long for.

God warns us against putting our hope in circumstances and in fairy tale endings here on this earth. Most of us are confused about the Gospel. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not that by getting Jesus all of our problems are going to be fixed and our dreams will come true. Jesus is not the means to an end towards our version of the American dream. No. The gospel of Jesus Christ is that we get Him and by getting Him we get everything, and with Him in our life we can face any circumstance that comes our way with joy and confidence and the knowledge that He is enough. It is only as our own human expectations are destroyed and radically transplanted by the truth of Jesus Christ that we will find in Him the answers we are desperately seeking and the joy we long for.

Moses understood it. His dream had been to go to the Promised Land. He never did, but only stared at it from afar. David wanted to build a house for God. He didn't. Job expected God to keep disaster from him. We all know how Job's life played out. Then there's John the Baptist, the greatest man who ever lived—by Jesus' claim. He expected Jesus to deliver him from prison. Instead, John's head was chopped off because of a stripper.

Wrong expectations are common and they are toxic to the life of the Christian. When God calls us to Himself, He commits to remove those wrong expectations and replace them with what He knows will bring us freedom.

What about you? Have you struggled with the weight of failed expectations before? How have you responded to God when He hasn't met your expectations?

Lina's book Stripped is available through 11/19 at 50% off through Moody. Use discount code: 50%Stripped
Excerpted from Lina's new book, Stripped: When God's Call Turns From "Yes!" to Why Me?" Leave a comment below by Wednesday, November 13, for a chance to win one of two copies of Stripped.

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About the Author

Lina Abujamra

Lina Abujamra

Lina is a Pediatric Emergency Room Doctor in Chicago and the women’s ministry director at her church, Harvest Bible Chapel, Rolling Meadows Campus. She is the author of Thrive, and blogs at Living With Power where she provides biblical truths for everyday life.

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