Expectations

The past 72 hours or so have been some of the most silent and stressful hours of this year.  I’ve been on standby to go back to North Carolina for a temporary hurricane relief job/project since Wednesday morning.  I cancelled all my plans for the week — couldn’t hang out with an old friend because I had to pack, and even cancelled on golf with my old pastor who was visiting from out of town.

It’s Friday. And I’m still in my room. I got the email this morning that the contract with the client didn’t work out and we are on stand down mode now.  To my left there’s my carry-on luggage bag — It’s busted open in half on the floor, full of clothes that I’ll probably pull out one by one as the days go by. I don’t think the bag will leave the floor anytime soon.

Some weeks ago, two of my friends and I had a talk about the power of prayer.  Things led to another and we ended up talking about why God doesn’t answer our prayers sometimes. It was a real sincere moment, and I’m not talking about the prayers where we pray for some girl or some cute boy to like us back, or even the ones where we’re praying for God to help us pass this test or get through some interview. But the heart-crushing, gut-wrenching ones— where faiths are in jeopardy, life and death the matter… The ones where we’re pushed beyond our limits, to a place where we have nothing to do but to trust God — and He doesn’t answer.

I have another friend who recently got married. Not to make his head any bigger, but he is easily the wisest 23-year old I know.  Over the course of countless meals I’ve had with him, I noticed he always ends his prayers with something along the lines of how we don’t deserve any of this life — yet His provision is always perfect.

Then it hit me.  We really don’t deserve any of this. That’s what forgiveness is. How dare we expect God to move in ways that are easy, good and convenient for us.  And when He does something contrary to what we asked for, we get frustrated, turn our heads away from Him and raise our fists to heaven.

Why do you say, O Jacob,
and complain, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord;
my cause is disregarded by my God”?

The truth is He is sovereign. and He cares. and we don’t deserve any of it.  He answers prayers all the time. It’s just not always in the way that we imagine or want it to be.  And the liberating news is that it’s better that way.

A recent survey shows that the happiest people in the world reside in Denmark. Denmark? Really?  Even experts say that it’s “hard to pin down why those Danes are so darn happy.”  One of my favorite authors tackled this question and revealed that the main reason why the Danish are happy  is because they have low expectations.

It makes a ton of sense.  With low expectations, I can really start to engage life in a more adventurous, bold and unbiased way.  If I stop expecting things to go my way all the time, I can make big decisions more easily without having the fear of missing out.   I can let go easier.  If I stop expecting the next cool shoe or gadget to fulfill my life, I can be less materialistic.  And maybe, I can start to love people for who they are if I stop expecting them to be a certain way.

I can’t keep dwelling on something that didn’t work out, because it didn’t and that’s that.  It’s time to take the next step. It requires some letting go, and there are no guarantees, but it will all be worth it — because hurricanes hit when you least expect them.

And the Only One that will never fail to meet our expectations is orchestrating all of this — and we don’t deserve any of it.

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