We all have great expectations from others: from our parents, our children, friends, employers, employees, from our country and from God. When these expectations do not materialize, we feel sad, let down, even helpless, because things are not in our hands. In extreme situations, depression sets in. We then feel that in this life no one cares for us and that all the efforts that we have put in have not brought any rewards.
Of course there is basically nothing wrong in having expectations. David prays, “In the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.” (Psalm 5:3) and again, “My soul, wait only upon God; for my expectation is from him.” (Psalm 62:5) John the Baptist had sent his disciples to ask Jesus a direct question, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Matthew 11:3)
However, there is the other side of the story as always. John F. Kennedy’s famous words in his 1961 inaugural address as U.S. President were, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” The pioneer British missionary to India, Dr William Carey had advised people not only to “Expect great things from God” but to “attempt great things for God.”
“Honour your father and your mother” was God’s fifth commandment, (Exodus 20:12) but later on St Paul reminded parents, “Do not exasperate your children.” (Ephesians 6:4)
Yes, while we keep a count of what others should be doing for us and have not done it, we rarely worry about what people may be expecting from us. It is quite likely that we may be disappointing them by falling short of their expectations.
As we have expectations of our children, God surely has expectations of us as his children. And they are simple: “What does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul?” (Deuteronomy 10:12) While we expectantly await God’s answers to our prayers, let us also make sure that we are doing what he requires of us.