We all have expectations. We often call those expectations hope.
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2Kings 5:1-14 gives us a story of how to deal with disappointed expectations.
We all have expectations.
We often call those expectations hope.
When those expectations are not met, we experience disappointment.
As children, each of us can probably recall at least one Christmas morning where we had a great hope or expectation for a particular gift.
Mine was so strong, I can still feel its effects even today.
GREAT EXPECTATIONS is a novel by Charles Dickens deemed by most as his greatest and most perfect novel.
The moral theme of Great Expectations is quite simple: affection, loyalty, and conscience are more important than social advancement, wealth, and class.
The idea of wealth and class is at the forefront of our passage from 2 Kings.
Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria,
was a great man with his master and in high favor,
because by him the LORD had given victory to Syria.
He was a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper.
Naaman figured that his status in society should garner him special favor in any circle.
His pride of position caused him to reject the method of healing proposed by Elisha the prophet.
But Naaman was angry and went away, saying,
“Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the LORD his God,
and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper.
Namaan had an expectation of how it should be done, but when he was told to go to the Jordan River, he rebelled.
He considered the rivers of his home country to be far superior to any river in Israel.
Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus,
better than all the waters of Israel?
Could I not wash in them and be clean?”
So he turned and went away in a rage.
I would hope that none of us have ever left in a rage over a disappointment.
Or have we?
Have you ever become angry over the way you were treated at a restaurant or grocery store or some other place of business?
We have all experienced less-than-satisfactory service many times in different places.
What was our response? How did we feel? How did we react?
I was with a pastor in a building supply store a few years ago who went into a rage because the store no longer honored a military discount.
There were four of us with the man, and we were all embarrassed to be seen with him at that time.
I was recently with another pastor at a local restaurant.
His meal was not delivered as ordered, and he brought it to the attention of the person taking his money as we checked out.
He expected something more than just a one-dollar discount on the bill and went into a rage that the entire restaurant witnessed.
Each of these men were disappointed because they had an expectation which went unfulfilled.
sadness or displeasure
caused by the nonfulfillment
of one’s hopes or expectations.
Is it wrong to have expectations?
No, of course not.
Is it wrong to be disappointed?
No, of course not.
But, how we respond or react to our disappointment will reveal much about our character.
When we become angry because of a disappointed expectation, we reveal where our heart and mind are at the time—self-centered.
I wanted it. I should have it.
How dare you to not meet my expectation?!?
There are a few places in the Bible that can help us with this idea of expectations and how to deal with them.
Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.
If our hopes, our expectations are not met, this verse says that our heart becomes sick.
I do not believe the writer was referring to heart disease as we know it today, although I can certainly see where it could be true.
People who live continually with disappointments usually settle on down into depression.
That is certainly a result of a sickened heart.
Not a disease of the fist-sized muscle beneath your fifth rib, but of that which drives you, motivates you.
We call it spirit.
A man’s spirit will endure sickness,
but a crushed spirit who can bear?
We can see from these few verses and from our knowledge of depression that we should want to avoid anything that could crush our spirit.
Some of us as children had our spirits crushed repeatedly by those who were supposed to be encouraging us in our growth.
A child is not conscious of his or her expectations, because they don’t really have any about their home.
They do not “EXPECT” their parents to treat them well.
However, when that treatment is not good, things begin to happen to the child which could end up ruining them for life.
A joyful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
This verse tells us that a crushed spirit may produce health issues in us.
So, what are we to do with this? How can we control the effects of disappointed expectations?
Obviously, the simplest—but not necessarily the easiest—way would be to have no expectations at all.
As Alexander Pope wrote, “Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.”
While that may be true, it is also almost impossible to achieve—except maybe for the hermit.
Expectations have to do with what you have heard me often say about “attachment to outcome.”
Attachment to outcome is just that—an expectation of how something should be.
Usually, that is limited to certain things as we see them, without any room for a variation.
We can see this with a toddler when he is wanting some particular thing like a toy that may belong to another child.
The parent will offer something else to the toddler, trying to change its focus.
Doesn’t usually work too well, does it?
The toddler wants what she wants when she wants it and nothing else will satisfy.
That may be how some of us get when we have expectations about certain things.
I want some ice cream.
I don’t want just any old ice cream—I want mint chocolate chip.
I don’t want just any old chocolate chip—I want Haagen Daz mint chocolate chip.
So, when I go to the freezer and find that there is only chocolate chip made by someone other than Haagen Daz, I am disappointed.
What I do with that disappointment will reveal much about my inner life.
If I am able to operate from a place of “c’est la vie”, I will either enjoy the ice cream that is available or go without until I can get Haagen Daz mint chocolate chip ice cream.
When things don’t go according to plan, some people complain non-stop; while others accept the fact that disappointments are a part of life and get on with it.
They will shrug their shoulders and say the French phrase, and move on.
That kind of attitude can be developed with each disappointment you experience if you will put this into practice.
Another form of this attitude is found in an old song from the ‘50s
Is this not the attitude Jesus expressed in Gethsemane when He prayed, “Yet, not my will, but thine be done”?
Is this not something we can do when we pray?
Is it something we can do even as we are expecting things to be a certain way?
The problem for most of us is that we do not realize that we have expectations to which we are attached until we are disappointed.
That is when it is revealed that we had an expectation.
Once we come to grips with and accept that the things of this life are not under our complete control, we will then be able to move through the unexpected changes which occur without so much difficulty.
However, the apostle Paul give us some insight as to how all this works together—both in the natural and the spiritual realm of expectations.
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings,
knowing that suffering produces endurance,
and endurance produces character,
and character produces hope,
and hope does not put us to shame,
because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Using this passage within the context of this message today could almost be viewed as circular reasoning if we applied the idea of sufferings to disappointed expectations.
Basically, Paul is telling us that as we learn to endure through our sufferings, we become stronger which yields a better character.
As our strength of character develops and matures, we learn to hope with a hope that does not disappoint.
We learn that the only sure hope is that which is in Jesus Christ.
Everything around us may change.
Everything around us may cause us disappointments.
But the only constant is Jesus.
is the same yesterday and today and forever.
I encourage you to place all your hope in Jesus, and let the things of this world with all its expectations, fulfilled dreams and disappointed dreams, just be so much water off a duck’s back.
Peace will be a major force in your life when this is achieved.