If anyone can be accused of high expectations, all fingers are pointing to this girl right here. I expect so much of myself and the people around me, to the point it can drive me plain mad…because I am constantly disappointed. I will never measure up to perfection, nor am I, as a human, designed to. Only one Man lived a perfect life, and His righteousness is mine already through faith that what He did is enough. I don’t have to work for perfection, because in Christ Jesus I already have it.
“But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness.” Romans 4:5
Just let that sink in.
English poet Alexander Pope said, “Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.” He called it the ninth beatitude, and I get his point (although I don’t agree on holding it up against Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount). It’s a whole lot easier to cruise through life without expectation. But is it best? Don’t expectations push us to run a little faster and jump a little higher? Don’t they fuel our goals and test our limits?
Expectations can be both good and bad. The difference is in the root. Just as a healthy root produces healthy fruit (my lame rhyme for the day), so healthy expectations can produce healthy results. The opposite is also true. So what defines healthy expectations? The object and motivation of the expectations:
- What do I expect?
- Why do I expect that?
David demonstrates a healthy expectation in Psalm 62. He was waiting for God to show up in all His power.
“My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation;
He is my defense; I shall not be moved.” v. 5
Expectations from God are holy and drive us to deeper depths of prayer and worship. But when expectations come from within ourselves, from our pride in believing we are capable of attaining apart from Christ, they shape our lives to be about us and not about Him. We were designed to be dependent upon His grace. There is no Option B. He is it. That is healthy expectation.
The four men and the paralytic had this (Mark 2). They were so driven by the expectation that Jesus was the answer that they carried their friend through town and on top of a roof. They broke through tile and lowered him down right into the presence of Jesus. No Option B.
“When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven you.’” Mark 2:5
Is anyone else surprised by this response? Doesn’t he see the guy on the mat that just came down through the roof? He’s paralyzed.
Oh, He sees Him, just like He sees each one of us. He peers right into the depths of our souls and sees a problem much bigger than our circumstances.
“For man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
These four men saw a man who was wholly incapable of movement, bound by a body that didn’t react to his brain’s commands. Yet, Jesus saw a man paralyzed with sin—one who couldn’t move forward without a new heart, a change in the trajectory of his life.
So they came with a healthy expectation of Jesus healing their friend. And Jesus did heal him, but probably in a way they didn’t expect. He did what only He could do. He called the man His—“Son.” That identity changes everything. His life was headed to destruction, but as God’s son, He was immediately given eternal Hope and a future. He gained the righteousness he could never get on his own.
But the man was still on his bed.
Jesus could have left him there, seeing as He had provided the only true healing we ever need. But, Jesus also knows our humanity. It was difficult to prove that the man was forgiven, only Jesus would know that. Yet, as the man got up and walked, everyone saw God’s power on display.
“‘But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins’—He said to the paralytic, ‘I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.’ Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God saying, ‘We never saw anything like this!’” Mark 2:10-12
See what happens when you expect great things from God? As is the nature of any expectation, we make ourselves vulnerable to disappointment, but we can trust our expectation because it lies in very capable hands. If God is the basis and the means of fulfilling our expectations, we can be assured that though it may not play out like we expect, the results will be far greater than we could ever imagine.
And check back for Part 3 of this series on Jesus healing the paralytic!