“FACES OF EXPECTATION”                                By Pastor YAU

Text: 2 Timothy 4:16-18                                           August 20, 2006

 

INTRODUCTION:

1)   A personal experience: A writer described his personal insight on expectation like this: “One of the things I’ve learned as I have grown older is not to expect too much from people,” He said. “It’s possible for us to pour a good deal of energy and love into a relationship, a family member or a friendship and receive little or no response or growth or gratitude for our efforts. It’s even possible that others may get all the credit for the work we’ve done.” He also said, “If we expect people to respond the way we deserve or to recognize and appreciate what we have done, we will certainly be deeply hurt. Then we will begin to ask, ‘Is this all I get?’”

2)   A sad story: It is good in those times of disappointment to look at our motive, to examine our attitude of entitlement or to see if there is a passion to be seen and applauded for our efforts. Can we give freely and allow others to take their responsibility for their own responses? The Apostle Paul went through times in his faithful and sacrificial service for the Lord, poured out his heart to people around him but when he was in desperate need of support everyone forsook and left him to face the most difficult moments of his life. All that expectation may bring us is heartbreaking.

 

FACES OF EXPECTATION:

1)    It is the essence of hope: Hope it a big part of human experience. We do not just live for today but also for tomorrow. We work hard today in hope of a better tomorrow. We plant today, hoping growth and harvest tomorrow. We invest time, energy, emotion on a relationship, hoping it will bring results tomorrow. The essence of hope rests squarely on expectation. Without hope or expectation, life will be hopeless without much incentive.

2)    It is a powerful motivation: Among all the driving forces of life, expectation or hope is one of the most powerful forces that pushed us to do more, get higher, dig deeper and go further. The law of cause and effect which is deeply embedded in our life motivates us to put out our best today expecting results tomorrow. Expecting a better life, a sweeter relationship, a more rewarding satisfaction on what we do are all powerful motivating forces of life.

3)    It is also a risky business: Expectation is personal and subjective. Although there are some natural laws that may provide degrees of confidence: you plant a seed and expect to see the sprout, there are many unknown conditions way beyond our control to guarantee the kind of results we expect to have. This is particularly true when our expectations focus on people. Nothing in this world can change faster or more unpredictable than human beings. We may do all we can and expect results from our stand point but how others may respond is always unpredictable and in most cases way beyond our control. There is always a risk our expectation will never come or if it does come it is not exactly what we expect.

4)    It is mostly hurting: If you are a fair and balanced person, you will find out that more often than not, most expectations failed far short of what we want them to be and that hurts. Human beings are contradicting themselves. On the one hand we all have expectation. On the other hand we feel hurt when our expectations are not met or fulfilled and it happens more often than we want them to. It is nothing wrong to have expectation but we need to be prepared to accept the fact that most expectations just never measure up to. If you don’t want to get hurt, expect less or nothing.

 

ON THE CASE OF PAUL: Read the text of today again and try to feel how Paul felt when he was abandoned by those whom he expected will stand with him when he needed them the most. 

1)      A faithful soldier: When Paul looked back on his life and his commitment to the mission God has called him to, he said, “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race and I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness.” (2 Tim. 4:6-7) Nothing in his heart or memory would make he regret of his life. He had been faithful to his call and had done what all he could.

2)      A lonely prisoner: When he faced the last days of his life, most, if not all, of those who were with him had left him leaving an empty space in his heart. See how much he longed to have company of Timothy when he said, “Do your best to come to me as soon as you can. For Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me.” (4:9-11) When people did not meet our expectation, they all have their reasons we may not agree. It is heartbreaking especially when those whom we have most confidence turn out to be much less than they really are.

3)      In time of need: We expect more when time is desperate and urgent. We usually expect those whom we love and trust the most to stand with us in time of pain and trial. But when Paul was facing his first defense, all those whom he expected to stand by him and support him had deserted him. “At my first defense, no one came to my support but everyone deserted me.” (4:16) These were the people who knew Paul and his life. They were the best support and defense Paul needed at the time. But “everyone” has deserted him, not even one had stayed. Had Paul expected too much of these people? You make the judge. I don’t think so.

4)      Not exactly alone: That is what we can expect on our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He will never desert His people especially those who are faithful to His call. Paul said, “But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength.” (4:17) When Paul saw no one was there to support him and was disheartened, he saw the Lord stood by him and gave him strength to go through the defense. When our expectation on people fails, God will make it up with His presence.

 

HOW TO HANDLE EXPECTATION?

1)   Do not hesitate to expect: Like hope, expectation is important in real life and we need to have that to motivate us for a better and brighter tomorrow. Do our best today and expect good results tomorrow. Support your expectation with good work, not just good wishes. Keep your expectation alive and for a vibrant life today.

2)   Keep expectations realistic: Consider all the possibilities, both positive and negative, that may affect the outcome of expectation. Things may not happen exactly the way we want them to. Do not expect something that is highly impossible. Understand the nature of people and environment. Do not over expect on anyone or you will certainly be hurt. No one can meet all your expectations.

3)   Always have a Plan 2: We need to have plan 2 on our expectation just in case plan 1 doesn’t work. Do not put all your expectations on one person or one thing. Life is full of unexpected twists and turns. We all change so as others. No one is responsible to meet all of your expectations. When they don’t, you need to have a plan to continue to live and live well. It is your life. No one is responsible except you. Never put all your eggs in one basket.

4)   Place all expectations on God: If you really believe that God is all loving, all powerful and all knowing, you certainly can place all your expectations on Him. For God never change his mind or takes back his promises. He will never leave us especially when we need him the most. He will never turn us away when we come to him for help. His love will cause him to do the best for our good and his power will cause him to provide our every need. God is our only most realistic expectation and hope. In Him, we can never fail.

 

CONCLUSION:

1)   Expectation is important: To the one who expects, it is hope. To those who are being expected, it is a duty or challenge. We need to have healthy expectation to keep life driving forward. We also need to have expectation on us to keep us do better, go further. It is not wrong to expect someone, something or ourselves. When you lost expectation on anything or anyone, tomorrow doesn’t mean anything to you and life has lost its purpose to continue.

2)   Facing the problems of expectation: Expectation is mostly personal and subjective. It is personal therefore others may not share our points of view. It is subjective therefore we may be bias, unrealistic or even totally wrong. When things and people do not measure up to our expectation, someone may get hurt and relationships turn sour.

3)   The bedrock of all expectations: God is the bedrock of all of our expectations, be it on things or people or anything else. Just as He stood by Paul when everyone else deserted Paul, God is there with him through the most difficult moments. You always can count on God to be there with you no matter how others may fail you. Trust Him and expect Him to be with you when you need Him. Jesus made this promise: “Whoever comes to me I will never drive him away.” (John 6:37)