Expectations. They can motivate us. They can break us. They can define us. They can haunt us.
Realities. They can change us. They can push us. They can defeat us. They can scar us.
My life expectation was to be engaged or married, with a job in baseball, living on a farm in the midwest while having the whole adult life figured out.
My life realities, I’m as single as they come, working in a non-profit, coaching volleyball (a sport I came in knowing nothing about), living on a city street in Richmond, realizing daily how much I have to learn about being an “adult”.
Our life expectations can throw a loop in how we view ourselves. Am I a failure because everything I expected to happen after college didn’t? Has God forgotten about me because I’m still single? Did I waste all my money on a degree that is producing a job I never thought I’d be in?
To be honest it can, and it has. This last year has been a real struggle for me because my life realities are so far from my life expectations. Are they bad, not necessarily, just different. But for someone like me who’s had a life plan figured out since our middle school career fair, it can really shake a life dynamic.
Life hasn’t been easy, maybe it hasn’t been an outward suffering, but inwardly I’ve suffered. Wondering if I measure up. Wondering why relationships fail when all I want is to be married. Wondering why God’s curved my path in the way that He has. Then I remember this quote:
How often in the midst of our failing realities do we forget that GOD DOES NOT FAIL. We may see our current circumstances as uncertainties and failures, but we have God and that is enough of a reality for me. Each and every day we live in the reality that God sent HIS SON to die for us so that we could spend eternity with Him. Wow.
If I truly believe and live in that truth, then I should never feel my shortcomings or failed expectations define who I am. I am not less of a person because I’m single. I am not less of a value because my job is different than what I thought. I am a whole person, living in the redeeming grace of Jesus Christ.
If we look at the story of Joseph for a minute I think we can see how real this is. Joseph probably didn’t go into life expecting to be sold by his brothers into Egypt, to build his life back up only to be wrongly accused of a crime, then to reconcile his reputation only to be forgotten about by the very people he just helped, but that’s exactly what happened (Genesis 37-44). One failure after another. One escalated place, one low-life place. A rollercoaster life, most likely full of confusion, joy, suffering, excitement. The one common theme through the entire story — God was there.
If Joseph had not been sold to Egypt, he wouldn’t have entered Potiphar’s house. If he didn’t enter Potiphar’s house, he would have never been thrown into prison. If he had never been thrown in prison, he would have never met Pharaoh’s cup bearer. If he had never met Pharaoh’s cup bearer, he would have never been recommended to interpret Pharaoh’s dream. And if he had never interpreted Pharaoh’s dream (through God), he would have never been in command to lead Egypt during the famine.
So what’s your Egypt? What’s your hard place of failed expectations and haunting realities? The place you feel is doing more harm than good? Could it be God is just preparing you to save a nation? Preparing you for the job He has called you to do.
Romans 8:28, “And we know in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and have been called according to His purpose.”
HIS purpose, not ours. HIS glory, not ours. HIS plan, not ours. He works all things for OUR good. GOD DOES NOT FAIL. So stop thinking that He does.
Go live in the realities God has set before you, fully glorifying His name and understanding that His purpose is leading us to something greater than we could ever imagine. There will be suffering, there will be hard times, but there will also be eternal glory for those who never lose sight of the realities of the cross.