I am sitting in our family room looking at a foot of snow! How can this be? It started snowing yesterday, which was the first day of spring! This does not meet my expectations of sunshine and warmer temperatures. When it comes to the weather, we can easily be disappointed. We can try to make some of our plans around the weather reports, but the reports or expectations offered are often not correct.
We usually have a lot of expectations as we go through life. When we go to a nice restaurant, we expect good food and good service because we feel we are paying for it and “deserve it”. When we buy something new, such as a new appliance or new computer, we expect that it was built properly and should not break down. However, when the sales person offers us an extended warranty, we realize that the seller expects it to breakdown and that we are taking a risk when we buy the product – not to mention the “fear” they instill in us so that they can make money on the product and the warranty.
When I was little, I was one of the fortunate kids to grow up in a stable, loving home, where I learned about Jesus and saw parents who lived their faith. I expected that everyone else lived the same kind of life, until I started going to school and started to realize that I was wrong. The older I got and the more I experienced life, the more I saw that I was very wrong!
Life often takes turns that we don’t expect. Many people are beaten down by the circumstances of life. Some of these circumstances can be from our own poor choices, but many are not. People have a lot of scars from the circumstances they were born into or that got forced upon them. Even “survivors” who have broken free from their past, carry scars and painful memories that can continue to present struggles.
I didn’t expect this deadly cancer! I felt I was taking care of my body and now I feel betrayed by it. I went through the phase of asking, “why me?” until Don and I talked about it and he wrote his amazing and difficult blog on “Why Not Me?” (See Don’s blog in the archives from October, 2017.) But I continue to ask questions like, “How did this happen? What went wrong in my body? What was I exposed to? How could I have prevented it? Why didn’t I have any symptoms before it was too late?” Then I have to resign myself to the fact that I will never have the answers to these questions, and even if I did, how would that change things now?
I guess many people ask these same questions about their circumstances. We all have to resign ourselves to realize that ever since Adam and Eve brought sin into the world – which, by the way, God did expect – there has been the accumulation of sin and its destructive consequences on our lives. NEWSFLASH - in case anyone has not noticed -This is a fallen and imperfect world! Therefore, we should not expect perfection and heaven on earth. That does not mean that we won’t be disappointed and we won’t long for everything to be right in our lives. We have to suffer through the pain of imperfection and unmet expectations. Sometimes we feel our prayers are going unanswered, or like God has abandoned us.
As I write this, I can’t help but think of Jesus. As we go into the Easter season, we remember and refocus on Jesus’ crucifixion, and celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. God did expect that mankind would eventually sin. We do not know how long Adam and Eve enjoyed a perfect world before things were so good that they became selfish and wanted more. They wanted to have the same knowledge as God. Satan lied to them and preyed on their selfish thoughts.
1 The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”
2 “Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. 3 “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”
4 “You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. 5 “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”
WOW, doesn’t that sound like mankind – always wanting more and sacrificing important things like integrity, family, other relationships, and self to climb the ladder of more power and “success.” Jesus said, “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” (Matthew 16:26)
God did expect man to disobey and sin. That is why from the very beginning of time, He had a plan to restore our relationship to Him. That plan was Jesus, who willingly volunteered to take on the sins of all people for all time and prepare a perfect world – heaven - for all who would accept His love and gift. Jesus experienced a lot of disappointment as his disciples struggled to understand Him and when He was betrayed and denied at his greatest point of pain – the cross. He had prayed intensely that God would provide another way, but was still willing to follow His father’s plan to save us. He felt abandoned, forsaken, as his father turned away as He carried all of our sin.
Jesus understands our pain, our struggles, our disappointment and our joys and heart’s desires. He is worthy of our devotion and trust. Jesus rose from the dead and conquered sin and death for us! That’s worth celebrating, not just on Easter, but everyday.
I didn’t expect this cancer to be part of my life’s journey! I am fighting it and praying for God’s healing everyday. Some days are much harder than others when I’m physically exhausted, feeling sick, feeling discouraged, and can’t feel my hands and feet anymore, but I know I have a God I can trust who has not abandoned me, but has brought many good things out of the bad circumstances – like Gail’s Girls (see www.GailsGirls.org).
God opens doors and uses us when we are willing. We can live with great purpose even in hard times. I’m so thankful that he opened the way for me to work with Gail’s Girls through Stadia! What a fulfilling partnership this has been. We are helping to train and support young women leaders in Southern Asia who are starting house churches and teaching about Jesus, even in the midst of persecution. Many will be in heaven because of this ministry. What a great legacy for me, and all who have become involved! Many poor communities are being transformed with clean water, toilets, and education, along with learning trades and life skills, etc!
I had been talking to God for years about a desire I had to write, but had no direction yet. I never expected that it would lead to writing blogs through this struggle! God is using our efforts and we are encouraged when someone else receives encouragement. He is allowing me to have more time with family and friends, growing together in our faith and love through many struggles. He is still using me in many ways, and that is my desire. I do expect that He will continue to be with me and direct my steps, even with numb feet!
This reminds me of one of my favorite Scriptures I memorized as a young teen:
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NASB)
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
It is a beautiful morning, but there is still snow on the ground. I guess I should not expect sunshine with 70 degree weather yet.
What are your expectations?