“WISDOM OF LIVING (29): EXPECTATION”       By Pastor YAU

Text: Proverbs 13:12                                                         June 26, 2005

 

INTRODUCTION: “A delayed hope makes the heart sick, but a fulfilled expectation is a life giving tree.” (Proverbs 13:12) The word hope here is not merely wishing or desiring, but the sense of expectation.

1) Broken expectation for the disciples:

       Use your imagination to construct a picture of what the discipleship of Jesus might think or act between the days after He was put to death on the cross and the morning when He walked out of the grave to life again. How did they handle the loss of Jesus, the long-awaited Messiah? How could they accept the fact that their Master and Lord had died? Where would they anchor their hope and expectation for a revival of Israel? Peter, the most devoted, might bust to tears and uttered the death of hope and said something like this: “I thought He was the one, but I was so wrong.” Can you imagine why Thomas wasn’t there to see Jesus after His resurrection? He might well be broken hearted to see His hope died with Jesus and gave up his desire of following the Messiah. When hope is dead, there isn’t much to live for.

2) The power of expectation and hope:

       Each of the disciples might have his own hope or expectation in Jesus when they gave their lives to follow Him. Some of them might have strong expectation to see a great and glorious revival of Israel. Others might expect personal prestige. But hope had been the core strength that helped to hold them together for a common expectation.

       We all know the power of hope in our lives. We also know the value of expectation which often times is the driving force to keep us going. Hope and expectation are important in our pursuit of goals. We work hard, we sacrifice and we get up again and again from stumbles in hope of that rewards we believe will come or good days are just a day away.

 

BASIC UNDERSTANDING OF EXPECTATION:

1)    What is expectation?  Expectation is a mental condition focuses on probability of results or rewards of efforts or desires we have on ourselves or others. We expect good grades when we work hard in exams. We expect recognition when we have achieved something good. We expect merchandize to last long because it was made by reputable manufacturers and we had paid a high price for it. Expectation is an integral part of daily life. To most people, expectation is also a natural thing to happen. When the outcome doesn’t match our expectation, our mental and even emotional conditions get hurt.

2)    Why do we have expectations? We have expectation because we believe in the formula of cause-and-effect. If I plant it right, water it right, apply the right fertilizer and the weather is right, we expect the grass in your front yard will grow green and dense. We also believe in “fairness” in expecting results, rewards, recognition, etc. when we have done our best in school, at work, in marriage, inter-personal relationship, etc. To some, expectation becomes their sure thing. These people can’t take exceptions, mishaps or failures.

3)    Do expectations always come true?  The answer is no. Even though most of our expectations are within normal probabilities, there are times things just don’t happen the way we expect them to. Expected results are more likely to happen when they are conducted in controlled environment such as in labs. Life carries too many variables and conditions beyond our control. Failure on expectation is often times more of a norm than exception.

4)    Are expectations good or bad?  It is both, good and bad, depends on how we handle it. Expectation is a double-edged sword. We all need to have expectation as goals and/or rewards to keep us going forward in life, career, pursuit of happiness and satisfaction. But we also need to be prepared to accept the hurt, pain and broken hearted when what we expect do not materialize. The key to avoid excessive disappointment and hurt when what we expect never comes is to set realistic or balanced expectations. The higher you expect, the worse you will suffer when things don’t go your way.

 

FACTORS OF EXPECTATION: There are two major factors that affect our expectations both on us and on others. We build expectations on objects, mostly people, as well as on our desires. The level of eagerness of our desire and the level of our belief in the object determine the level of our expectation.

1)    The role of desire: The stronger the eagerness or desire we hold, the higher our expectation will be. While there are worthy causes we should have strong desire to expect results, building too much desires on people and things around us in many cases can only hurt us when results don’t match our expectation. Besides the desire to be holy and more like Jesus, most of our desires are human and worldly oriented. The Bible has much to say about control of desires, especially worldly and sinful ones. It is uncontrolled desires that had ruined so many lives.

2)    The role of objects: The stronger and more dependable the object of our expectation, the more likely the results may come true. Here are some common objects we often times build expectations:

a)    God: We all agree that God is the most dependable object in Him we may build expectations. While God is the most dependable, He is in no way under any body’s control to do things according to our desires. We see people pour out their hearts, pray in tears, cry with the utmost sincerity, but God did not do things as they have expected. We need to recognize the sovereignty and wisdom of God in answering our prayers or meeting our expectations. We also need to have faith in Him that He does have our best interest in His mind when He makes decisions on our prayers,

b)    People: Building strong expectations on people even our most beloved ones is a risky business. People are all fallible including the best kind. People are incapable in many things even the most willing. Building expectation on people and suffer loss of heart and hope when they fail to meet your expectation is a common but painful scenario. No one owes us anything even in the family. All good wills and kind acts are to be appreciated. Many times, building unrealistic hope or expectation on others such as our spouse, children, friends, colleagues and close ones can only create pressure on them and disappointment on us.

c)    Ourselves: It is important to set expectations for ourselves to push us higher, further and more. Sense of achievement, rewards and recognition are all important to many of us. But we also need to realize that we are not invincible or all knowing. There are too many variables and conditions we just can’t beat to handle them all. Self reliance is not just a sin, it is an unrealistic dream.

 

HANDLING UNFULFILLED EXPECTATION: Unfulfilled dreams and expectations are not things of random occurrence. It is a reality in every life. No one has had achieved all expectations. Failure and setback are part of real life. People who are not prepared to face unfulfilled hope and dreams will fall flat and shattered. Here are some suggestions on how to face unfulfilled expectations:

1)    Set appropriate and balanced expectations: Paul admonished us in Romans 12:3 “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought.” Unrealistic expectation on you or on others can only put excessive pressure on them. On the same ground, do not expect others more or higher than you expect yourself.

2)    Only God can never fail:  To fail is part of being human. Everyone fails sometimes on something. Give room to yourself and others to failures. Learn from failures and get going again. Failure is never the end. Sitting in it is. Expecting best effort is right. Expecting success in everything and every time is wrong.

3)    No one is obligated to meet your expectation: Even if you have the best intention and the most sincere heart, no one is obligated to meet your expectation, not even God. Getting upset on unfulfilled expectation helps no one, not even you. It can only disrupt a sweet relationship, hurting feelings of both sides and damage your faith to the Almighty God.

4)    Do not lose heart too early: Some of us would jump to conclusion before finishing the story and get crushed. Thomas left the rest of the disciples completely heart broken when he saw his Master died on the cross and thought it was over. Never say it is over until it is over. Jesus did rise from the dead and brought in the beginning of a complete victory.

5)    A delayed fulfillment is a fulfillment: Man may get sick in his heart when a fulfillment of expectation doesn’t come on his timing. Give yourself or someone or God five more minutes to finish his job. We need to realize that different people has different schedule in finishing his job. Certainly God has different timing than ours. If you are patient enough to wait long enough for the fulfillment of expectation, you will taste the sweet fruits of the tree of life giving when your expectation is done right.

 

CONCLUSION: 

1)       We need hope and expectation: Everyone needs to have some expectation to keep his life alive and hopeful. The death of hope is close to the death of life. We don’t just live for today, we also live for tomorrow and expectation is an important part of tomorrow. Our future is as bright as our expectation and hope. Keep that light shine as long as you live.

2)       Jesus is our best hope and expectation: If you feel that life is hopeless and full of failure: failures of your own and that of others. You need to know that our ultimate guarantor of hope and expectation is in the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the creator and finisher of all we have expected. (Hebrews 11:1) The hopes and expectations of believers are not just wishes in our hearts. They are true images of things we have not yet seen. Therefore we need to strengthen our feeble arms and weak knees and keep going forward. Faith and perseverance are the keys to receive and taste the fruits of hopes come true and expectations fulfilled.