At the meeting of our faith community (church) last Sunday night, we were discussing expectations. We’ve had some things happen that have fallen short of our expectations. In the USA church we tend to equated expectations, faith, and results. If we don’t see the results we expected, we can get very discouraged. Sometimes we just need to be faithful to obeying God no matter what results we see.
I remember a conversation I had with a friend a few months ago. He was referring to Hebrews 11:33 – 40 from the Bible.
33 By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight. 35 Women received their loved ones back again from death. But others trusted God and were tortured, preferring to die rather than turn from God and be free. They placed their hope in the resurrection to a better life. 36 Some were mocked, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in dungeons. 37 Some died by stoning, and some were sawed in half; others were killed with the sword. Some went about in skins of sheep and goats, hungry and oppressed and mistreated. 38 They were too good for this world. They wandered over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground. 39 All of these people we have mentioned received God’s approval because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. 40 For God had far better things in mind for us that would also benefit them, for they can’t receive the prize at the end of the race until we finish the race.
He was focusing on the good results in the first half of the paragraph. I appreciate my friend’s optimism in many ways. I tend to be an optimist myself. Still, we have to accept the reality that sometimes we will obey God in something and the results will not look that flattering.