As people, we are really good at remembering anything good that has been promised to us. The Christmas bonus, our guaranteed vacation time, free products if we sign up for email updates, a free meal on our birthday, the list goes on. We are also really good at making a list of things we deserve for, well, just being us, or because of something we have done. We can think that if we treat someone with respect, we deserve to be treated with respect. If we cook, then they wash the dishes. If we let a car in front of us, then someone is obligated to let us in front of them.
If you have been alive for more than five minutes, you know this is simply not the way life goes. Sometimes it does, but not always. In a word, it is called expectations.
Not only do we have expectations for every other human on the planet, but we also have expectations for God. These expectations are often made up based on what we think we deserve rather than what the Bible actually says. One of the most common expectations among Christians is that if we follow God and obey the Bible to the best of our ability, He is obligated to make our life easy and relatively pain-free. We naturally excuse the common cold, scraped knees, and any type of pain or work we consider to be minor. Major things like cancer, the death of a child, job loss, and working four jobs to survive are absolutely unacceptable and will not happen if we follow God. Or so we think.
Let’s take a step back, clean the slate of what we think, and go straight to the Bible to find our answer. The book of Job is our biggest example that we claim a false promise when we believe that God owes us a good life. And yet, even with a whole book focused on the suffering of a God-fearing man, we can still dismiss it as if Job was a special case. We can naively think that just doesn’t happen to the everyday Christ follower. When we think this way, we only fool ourselves. We have been lulled into believing that clean water, hot water, indoor plumbing, ovens, microwaves, instapots, washing machines, cell phones, multiple vehicles, multiple devices, and the internet are all everyday things everyone should expect to have. Have you checked up lately on the state of Christ-followers in other countries? Their physical circumstances are horrifying, but their spiritual circumstances are awe-inspiring. They don’t live under the illusion that God owes them a good life just because they are following Him. They actually believe Jesus when He said the world would hate you (John 15:18-27). They believe it not only because He said it but because they are living it. They also rely heavily on the Comforter that Jesus promised in John 15:26. Something we could certainly stand to do more often!
Perhaps we claim this false promise because we actually have it too good. And now that things are starting to go wrong all around us, we are finding ourselves on the floor kicking and screaming, “It’s not fair!” Let’s start focusing on the promises actually made to us. Like the end of Hebrews 13:5 where it says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” This is one of the most popular ones claimed. Have you ever taken the time to read the whole verse? Jesus didn’t give this particular promise of never leaving us to keep us from being afraid or lonely. Rather it is a reminder that whatever we have in life, whether it is much or little, is not important. The important thing and life-changing thing is that Jesus is always with us! We can literally draw an arrow from this verse straight back to Matthew 6:25-34. The message is that God has provided what we have, so be content and happy with that, remembering that He, the Mighty God, the King of Kings, the all-powerful One, the Savior is with you always, until the end of the world according to Matthew 28:20. Now that’s a promise to get you through the day. That’s a promise that will truly bring hope and comfort in the trenches of life.