Expectations: the Good and the Bad

Unrealistic Expectations

False premises always lead to unrealistic expectations. Let me illustrate how easy it is to accept a wrong premise. A premise is a statement assumed to be true and then used to draw a conclusion. The Bible states that believers live by faith not by sight 2 Co 5:7. However, many times we live by sight rather than faith. In the past, people believed that the earth was flat because that was their sight premise. Thus the conclusion they drew was that if they traveled far enough in one direction they would fall off the end of the earth. Walking by faith and believing the Bible would have convinced them of the faith premise, that the earth was round (spherical) for Isa 40:22 states “He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers… ” Therefore, the conclusion would be since the earth was round, if we traveled in one direction we would eventually return to where we had started. Similarly, if we form our premise regarding expectations from our flesh of what we would like to see or expect as an outcome we will experience disappointment. When our premise is based on God’s Word, His promises are always yes 2 Co 1:20, although we need to remember that the timing of these promises are in His determination, not ours.

An unrealistic expectation is an expectation that we cannot control. All promises from God are realistic expectations. Some are positive while others are negative. For example, the Bible states that those that believe and trust in Jesus Christ have eternal life and when they die they will live with God in New Jerusalem where there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain Rev 21:2,3,4. On the negative side of the promises is Jas 1:5,6,7,8 where we are not to expect any wisdom from God (answers to our prayers) if we doubt when we are asking, for God states that this type of person is a double-minded person and He will not reward him for his doubting faith.

Much of our depression begins with unrealistic expectations that are unfulfilled. When these expectations are not met this leads us into a downward emotional spiral: disappointment, frustration, bitterness, resentment, anger, revenge, depression and many other forms of negative feelings along with negative or destructive actions. Whenever we have a dependency on someone else or something happening we are setting ourselves up for failure. The correct premise is to be dependent only upon God, believing His promises such as Ro 8:28 where God says that He works out all things in our lives for our good (to those who love him / trust him). If people struggle with this verse, it is usually in the timing. God does not promise to work out all things in our time frame but His. A good example would be the promise God gave to Abraham and Sarah about having a baby in their old age. After waiting patiently for God to fulfill this promise, Abraham and Sarah decided that they would take charge of the timing of this promise, and the result was Ishmael. Today, we are on the verge of World War III because of the deep hatred of the Palestinians (Ishmael) towards Israel (Isaac).

By not having false expectations we can more easily adjust to our trials that constantly arise in all of our lives. We must keep reminding ourselves of God’s promises such as Ro 8:28; Heb 13:5b,6; Php 4:19; 1 Co 1:8,9. When we ignore God’s truth and turn to worldly methods of dealing with depression such as drugs, alcohol, sex, food, spending and many other distractions, we lose the opportunity to build a dependent, trusting relationship with the Lord and we will definitely miss out on the lessons He is trying to teach us through these trials.

By believing and practicing God’s promises we can take pride in our emotional and spiritual growth and a closer relationship with the Lord, knowing there is coming a day when we will spend eternity with God as His precious children, so do not lose heart and fix your eyes on the eternal 2 Co 4:16,17,18.