I was blindsided! My early parenting years didn’t prepare me. No one prepared me for what was to come. It’s not fair. I believed with prayer and trying to do everything “right” (whatever that is), God would answer my prayers quickly and the problems would resolve. But the difficulties continued…and worsened. I never dreamed we would have experienced what we have with one of our children. My journey as a parent hasn’t turned out as I expected. I admit it…I had faulty expectations. Dear parent, are you in the same boat with me?
Did you know there are many people in the Bible who felt that way about their lives too? John the Baptist is one example. In John 1:29 – 34, he sent his disciples to ask Jesus a hard question, “Are you the one who was to come?”
Didn’t he know for certain? John was in the midst of experiencing super hard times. He’d endured a year or so in prison with no sign of his suffering ending anytime soon. He’s full of doubts and questions. He’d heard about what his cousin Jesus was doing but his expectations were unfulfilled. What he thought would happen hadn’t–the kingdom had not been restored to the Jews and here he sat in prison. Is this how his life was supposed to be . . . really? Suffering in prison wasn’t what John thought would happen…not at all.
My journey as a parent hasn’t been what I expected, either.
What about yours?
Lord, you’ve allowed me to experience a lot of pain and suffering. I never thought this would happen to me . . . I don’t understand. It doesn’t feel fair. Didn’t I pray hard enough? I thought you wouldn’t let anything bad happen to your followers or our loved ones. I don’t know how much longer I can take the pain. I thought you loved me.
Sometimes we have faulty expectations of God – especially wihere our children are concerned. These are five of the most common mistakes we make.
Five Faulty Expectations of God:
- He’ll keep his promises in our time frame.
His timing is never ours. …my thoughts are not your thoughts; and your ways are not my ways (Isaiah 55: 8). We need to surrender control. When we do, that’s often what frees God up to move, though not always on our timetable. Here is a list of promises God has made to us.
- He won’t give us more than we can handle.
This isn’t what the Bible means when it says, …he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear (1 Corinthians 10:13). God does give us more than we can handle. He does this all the time. But we’re not left alone. He will help us. We can grow to be comfortable knowing we can’t cope with everything on our own. Our part is to trust and lean on our heavenly Father. With him, we can do what we never thought possible.
- He’ll make things fair and always do what’s right for us.
Life isn’t fair. That makes us angry. However, God gives us no guarantee of things working out like we want. As a matter of fact, Jesus guaranteed problems and unfairness, but he promised to help us overcome. In him, we can be victorious. But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ… (2 Corinthians 2:14).
4. He’ll change our circumstances if we pray hard enough or have enough faith.
We need to trust that God is at work in us and in our circumstances. Things don’t usually change until we’ve changed – until God’s done with how he wants us to grow. My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). When we are weak, then we are strong—in him.
Don’t be attached to an outcome. Be attached to God!
- He’ll keep us safe. Nothing bad will happen to us or those we love. (How I wish this was true!)
One day Jesus sent his twelve disciples out to do the work he’d called them to do (Matthew 20:18). Eventually, ten of them would die a martyr’s death. Jesus never promised safety, but he did promise that nothing could ever separate us from his love or his presence (Romans 8: 38-39). And we’re promised something else…something we all desire…His peace:
You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you . . . (Isaiah 26:3 NLT).
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you . . . do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid (John 14:27).
We’re Full of Doubts
When we’re in pain, we begin to doubt. Does God know? Does he care? Memories of his former goodness weaken. We develop spiritual amnesia. We forget what we once knew.
We need to remember what’s true: who God is and what he’s done for us.
He is the all-powerful and almighty Creator for whom nothing is too hard. He is ever-present; always with us. He is love and he loves us with a perfect, unconditional, everlasting love. He is full of grace and compassion, the Redeemer who freely offers forgiveness, restoration, and reconciliation to all who come to him; the author of salvation. He is all-knowing; the source of unlimited wisdom about everything and everyone who ever lived. He is eternal; no beginning or ending; the Alpha and Omega; existing outside of time, perfectly self-sufficient needing nothing from anyone. who can help us with anything. He is the Trinity; God in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit–a glorious mystery. He is holy; pure, never changing, inerrant, existing in perfect light. And he is our Healer–of the whole person–body, mind and soul; Comforter, Heavenly Father, Advocate, and Helper through the Holy Spirit. I could go on.
When we suffer, he suffers too.
He weeps with us (John 11:35).
Our pain hurts his heart because Divine love is a suffering love.
Weary parent or grandparent, please don’t forget how much he cares for you, loves you, and hurts with you.
Divine love is a suffering love.
Pray with me: Lord, help me remember these faulty expectations the next time I doubt you and don’t understand your ways. Help me trust you more and focus on truth. Thank you that I do not suffer alone. And above everything else, teach me how to be attched to you instead of to an outcome I have no control over. In your Son’s powerful name. Amen.
Recommended Book: Engaging Today’s Prodigal: Clear Thinking, New Approaches, and Reasons for Hope by Carol Barnier.
What faulty expectations do you have? How do you cope with the disappointment?
We’d love to hear your thoughts!
***Today’s content is based on a message given by Ben Markham, our church’s discipleship pastor.