Sunday, February 7, 2016

Expectations



After Jesus was crucified, the disciples were devastated. They discussed this terrible loss saying, “But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened.” (Luke 24:21)

It was not wrong for the disciples to consider Jesus as the one who would redeem Israel, even though their idea of redemption was largely political rather than spiritual. And it was the third day since His death, so it did look like their hopes were in vain. They were dejected because God didn’t do what they expected Him to do.

What do I expect from God? I’ve had so many prayers answered in the past few weeks that I should be flying high, but I woke up this morning feeling dejected. That emotion didn’t’ seem to have a reason.

However, the devotional reading for today gives this reason for dejection: “Dejection springs from one of two sources — I have either satisfied a lust or I have not. Lust means — I must have it at once. Spiritual lust makes me demand an answer from God, instead of seeking God Who gives the answer.”

The common idea of lust is often associated with sex, but Chambers says it is “I want what I want when I want it.” It may not be a sinful thing. I’ve recently become aware of craving for the presence of God. This is a good thing, so good that when this desire is satisfied, nothing bothers me. For many days, He has answered this prayer with a deep sense of Him being right beside me.

However, as with all blessings, it becomes very easy to relish the blessing more than God who gave it. Chambers also says that spiritual dejection is always wrong because we tend to blame God for it, but this is not true. If I am depressed or oppressed visit me, I am to blame; not God or anyone else.

In the case of the disciples, they trusted God to do something, but by the third day, He had not done it. They imagined themselves justified in being dejected and thought this was God’s fault, not realizing that whenever we insist that God does what we want, we have gone off track. The meaning of our prayers is to get hold of God, not get hold of the answers.

His presence means His presence. It is not necessarily about being unbothered by anything. If something is bothering me, I ought to go to Him in prayer, knowing He is here and listening — whether or not I can sense that, and whether or not He does what I ask, or makes me wait, or says no. Faith is about trusting Him, even when life goes sideways. It is not about life always being straight and predictable, not is it about never being bothered by its crookedness or unpredictability.

Even as I write this, my foolishness is exposed. Do I want God? Or do I merely want that wonderful feeling that He gives me when I sense Him close by? Do I want God who knows what is best? Or do I want a genie in a bottle that I can order about as if I know what is best?

Yesterday, I admitted the danger of pride, of thinking I know better than God, and today I realize (again) that pride is a subtle beast that crouches in unexpected places.

Instead of feeling unconquerable all the time, even instead of feeling that my Savior is always here, He is telling me to trust Him regardless of any sensations or feelings, regardless of whether He is answering prayer or telling me to wait, and regardless of those ridiculous notions that have me supposing that I know what I need better than God knows.

We were able to go to church today. Bob’s weight loss is more obvious now than when we were at home. My fatigue is more obvious to me when others tell me to get some rest. My selfish pride and lack of trust is a sore thumb when with friends who are deeply in love with Christ. Yet it was good to be there, to sing His praises with those who also seek His presence.


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