Why do we have such a hard time adjusting to life when things don’t go our way? Oftentimes, we look to blame outward things (situations, circumstances, and people) when what we’re really upset about is our unspoken, oftentimes unrealistic expectations.
Life can be a wild and unpredictable ride. In spite of our best laid plans, there are times when things spiral in an unexpected direction. Hello reality! A dramatic change of course can cause feelings of fear, shock, and disappointment. The root of these feelings can often be traced back to unrealistic expectations we place on people, events, and even God. The key to facing times of trial and transition well is remembering where we need to focus our attention.
People aren’t the problem.
It’s easy to make people our focus. However, focusing on people is dangerous business. When we make other people (our spouse, kids, family, or friends) our focus and expect them to serve us, we end up with all kinds of heartache and pain. However, pain can have a positive result in our lives; it can help us to see that something is wrong. Why do we get upset when our others don’t live up to our expectations? Are they the problem? Could the real issue be the fact that we think the world should revolve around us and we’re upset that it doesn’t? Our lives were never meant to be about us. Life is about God and his mission of reconciliation. We can join him in this mission of reconciliation and let him do his work through us. Or, we can stay on the sidelines, wishing we could be the center of attention.
However, pain can have a positive result in our lives; it can help us to see that something is wrong.
Ministry isn’t the problem.
We can naïvely think there are certain guarantees when it comes to our performance and ministry results – there aren’t. Many people are tempted to believe that if they work hard enough, they will get there (wherever there is). NEWSFLASH: Just because God chose you for an assignment does not mean you are the answer. God is always the answer. We are just the tools he uses and the vessels he fills. People don’t need a bigger picture of us; they need a bigger picture of God. Things change when the world gets a bigger picture of God’s character, nature, and love.
God has plans for each of us; but those plans are often different than what we expected or imagined. Sometimes we can be tempted to believe that if we were better in a particular area, we’d be more successful. This same faulty logic can be applied to the church. However, God often places us in positions where we come face to face with our weaknesses.
For when I am weak, then I am strong…2 Corinthians 12:10c
God knows how to use weak, broken, and flawed people. Our struggles are never a deal breaker. We must not believe the lie that God can’t use us through our weaknesses. Paul said he’d gladly boast all the more of his weaknesses so that Christ’s power would rest in him. (2 Corinthians 12:9). Instead of bemoaning our weaknesses, we need to ask Him to work through our weaknesses.
Even teachers of God’s Word can develop a case of spiritual amnesia. We can clearly and easily see how God’s word applies in the lives of others. Yet, we can find it far more difficult seeing how His promises apply to our situation. The promises of God are for us! HE is for us. Believe God is at work in the world and ask to join Him. If you’re struggling, find specific verses that will help you. Turn your focus away from people, away from the problem and look up! Let your focus be on God, not the ever-changing circumstances of life. Here’s the catch though – reading verses and memorizing them will only go so far. We have to choose to believe Him – no matter what our experience or our past tries to tell us.
This God – His way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; He is a shield for all who take refuge in Him.Psalm 18:30
Adjust your expectations by feeding on the Word of God. When you feed on God’s word, your focus will shift. It is not enough to read and memorize scripture. Scripture must be believed and taken into the inner most part of our heart. God’s word is powerful; He has given us great and precious promises (2 Peter 1:3-4). These promises must be believed and applied through faith (Hebrews 11:6). Read the Scriptures. Pray the scriptures – especially the ones you have trouble with. Fix your gaze on Christ and let His Word feed you. God wants to give us wisdom to face the sudden shifts and dramatic changes in life (James 1:6). Our greatest good comes when our greatest expectation is from God.