Do you have some dreams, desires and expectations that have yet to be fulfilled? Are there disappointed longings in your life? Is there a specific request you have been waiting patiently on God to answer? Is there something you are groaning and yearning for? Do you feel like a plane in a holding pattern…circling…waiting to land? Have your unfulfilled expectations and waiting bred the dreaded 3 D’s? Discontentment, Disappointment and Discouragement.
All too often, our faith tragically fails to flourish because instead of learning to be content regardless of our circumstances, we endlessly strive to rearrange and manipulate the details in our lives, in order to bring about a “temporary joy”― one that never lasts and never fully satisfies. We’re not satisfied with contented dissatisfaction. —Cherie Hill
We’ve all had disappointments in life — circumstances and people have let us down. I’ve certainly had my share. There are things I have struggled with for years, circumstances and relationships that I’d hope would change or improve. So what are we supposed to do with all these disappointed longings? Are they normal? Is there something wrong with us?
This week I’d like to share with you some observations from life and God’s Word regarding our expectations and longings that have been unfulfilled or have disappointed us. I hope these will encourage you as you take a look at the expectations in your life.
1. Our deep longings that can’t be satisfied are very normal.
This earth is not our home. We will never be completely satisfied with this world. We will not know complete satisfaction until heaven.
And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. — Romans 8:23-25
But we often find ourselves frustrated and discontent and always looking for more because we’re more concerned about “feeling” better in the here and now rather than finding God. We want God to make things better. We want satisfaction! And the world tells us we deserve it. But that’s not real truth! If we can remember that this earth and its treasures were never meant to fill those empty places in our hearts and souls, then we will find ourselves on the path to greater peace, joy and contentment in life. And we can’t even begin to fathom or imagine what God has in store for us in eternity!
To us, our situation looks hopeless, but the place of hopelessness is where God can show Himself powerfully in our lives. What we find, as we wait on God to reveal His will, is that often times He only reveals Himself. —Cherie Hill
2. We have an enemy.
The enemy likes to get us doubting God’s goodness and plan for our lives. It’s been his tactic from the beginning. He loves when we are discontent with God’s plans and the good we have and discouraged by the circumstances of life.
Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. —1 Peter 5:7-9
But Jesus has come that we might have life abundant —John 10:10.
3. We don’t like disappointment and want to relieve the pain, so we tend to dig our own cisterns.
For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water. —Jeremiah 2:13
God’s people found themselves in bondage and Jeremiah explains there were two reasons. They had forsaken God, the living water and instead dug their own cisterns, broken ones that could not hold living water. They had become impatient and dissatisfied with God’s ways. They had chosen to make their own way. They attempted to manipulate outcomes and sought to bring about the happiness they felt they deserved. But in the end they found themselves in bondage —alone, thirsty and empty.
Cistern: The definition by Webster gives us clear meaning: an artificial reservoir for storing liquids, especially water. Often in OT times the empty ones were used as prisons.
Cisterns are just our attempts to fill those empty places in our lives with things that aren’t real, that don’t satisfy. Instead of expending our energy on filling our own cisterns, we need to allow our thirst to drive us to the feet of Jesus. A cistern is anything we turn to for safety, security or satisfaction in our lives apart from Jesus. We often end up digging ourselves into bondage, imprisoned by our own expectations and desires. We dig cisterns when we try to manipulate circumstances to meet our needs and desires. We dig cisterns when we become impatient with the waiting and try to fix the problem or alleviate the pain in our own strength.
Let’s get real! Let’s face reality. Disappointment is part of life. There will be pain in this life. What we need to realize and embrace is that it is okay to feel disappointment. It’s a great opportunity for growth. If we will allow ourselves to “feel” the disappointment, to process it, grieve over it, and then trust God to fill that place with His presence, we will be stronger and more satisfied.
God calls us to come to the well of living water and drink deeply. His Word is living water that will satisfy our thirsty souls. Jesus is the living water who will satisfy our deepest longings. Without the constant renewal of the fresh water of God’s Word, we will continue to be thirsty and empty.
4. We don’t like to wait, so we begin to believe the lie instead of trusting Truth.
Wait –to remain inactive or stay in one spot until something anticipated occurs; to be in a state of readiness. (American Heritage Dictionary)
I love that definition of waiting in “one spot”. Sometimes that “one spot” can be a rut, a place where we find ourselves stuck. It’s a place where we allow the discouragement, discontentment or disappointment to define us. We believe the lie that we deserve more and we should be completely satisfied here on earth. But the truth is, there is a “one spot” that is the perfect place to plant ourselves —a place where we can experience joy, peace and contentment. That “one spot” is God’s presence. It’s sweet. It’s secure. It’s satisfying. We need to let those longings drive us into Jesus’ presence.
The original word for wait conveys the idea of binding or twisting, like that of a rope. God’s Word calls us to wait upon Him —to bind ourselves to Him, to cling to Him, to seek refuge while we wait in His presence. Waiting can be a very good thing!
Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! —Psalm 27:14
And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you. —Psalm 39:7
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his Word I hope. —Psalm 130:5
In the path of your judgments, O Lord, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our soul. —Isaiah 26:8
But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. —Isaiah 40:31
5. We need a heart check-up and maybe even a complete overhaul.
Often that disappointment, discouragement and discontent will take root and bring about bitterness, anger and envy in our lives. What we are cultivating in our hearts, minds, and souls is critical. What are you planting? What is taking root? Where are those roots attaching themselves? What needs to be weeded out? I need a heart realignment so that my longings and desires are aligned with God’s desires and will for my life. Perhaps He is using this circumstance, unfulfilled desire or expectation to detach me from the things of the world so that I might attach myself to Him in a deeper way. If we will allow God to work, he will reveal the places in our hearts, that “thing” that’s not right. That “thing” that doesn’t align with His will. But we have to spend time in the Word, at the feet of Jesus, in order for this to happen. And this is not an easy process! Digging out roots and weeds in our hearts is painful. Sometimes we’d just prefer to ignore those hard places in our hearts —to pretend they don’t exist. But what the enemy loves to keep hidden in darkness, Jesus longs to bring to the light so He can heal and restore us! He wants to empty our lives of all those things that are preventing us from experiencing true freedom and joy. He will replace the emptiness with His presence.
And as we continue to remain and wait in His Word, to know His truth and to allow it to permeate our lives, He will heal our hurts and realign our hearts. He is the HEART REVEALER and He is the HEART HEALER.
Will you let God dig into your heart and soul and transform your life? Will you let him make your life new and not just better the circumstances?
For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. —Isaiah 43:19 (NLT)
6. We can choose how we will respond!
Are your expectations holding you back from the abundant life NOW? How do we keep our expectations from ruining our relationships and robbing us of our joy and peace?
- What if God never fulfills that expectation or longing in your life?
- What if things remain “the same”?
- Will you still trust Him? Can you be thankful?
- What will you do with this “thing” that is robbing you of joy and peace and the ability to move FORWARD?
We can choose how we will respond to our unfulfilled and disappointed longings!
We can choose to let our expectations and circumstances define us, or we can choose to surrender them to Jesus and trust Him! As long as we cling tightly to our “thing”, it will keep us in bondage and we will keep digging empty cisterns that will never satisfy our thirsty hearts and souls.
It begins by KNOWING who God is, His character and nature. TRUSTING His purposes and plan. Having an ETERNAL PERSPECTIVE and being THANKFUL in the NOW.
This week I’d love for you to read the stories of some women from Scripture who experienced disappointment, loss, hurt and unfulfilled longings and desires. Some of them are an example of trusting God with their expectations and others an example of what happens when we try to fill our emptiness through our own methods. I hope you’ll take some time this week to download the handout and spend some time in God’s Word. Let Him transform your heart and life and fill your empty longings!
Later this week I’ll share with you some insights from God’s Word that I’ve put into practice in my own life, that have helped me to deal with expectations that seek to rob my joy and ruin my relationships.
Download the lesson: Lessons on Expectations from Women of the Bible
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©2014 Susan Cady, susancady.com