The definition of expectation: a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future. Said another way, it’s seeking to prevent disappointment by establishing in advance what can realistically be achieved or delivered by an undertaking or course of action.
An expectation is something we place on someone else. Something some of us place on God.
In our yearning for the expectation to be met, we envision joy, satisfaction, or something given to us. We expect another person to do as we would want them to and as long as we focus on the intent, another result is never considered. The other result that disappoints. The result that leaves us with hurt feelings and disappointment. As many times as we have all been disappointed we seem wired to repeat the cycle. To set a bar that someone will fall short of.
Why do we do this? Is selfishness the culprit and it all becomes about us and what we need and want?
What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure. – James 4:1-3
So, let’s dissect the scripture a little further.
What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you?
An expectation not met may not lead in a quarrel or fight outwardly but it often results in an internal war. Inside you are hurting. You wanted the situation to turn out differently but it didn’t. Your heart may even be telling you that forgiveness is in order but not right now. Maybe not forever. You begin to shut down and withdraw and you try to comes to terms that the relationship can move forward under new terms. In the text of commentaries, evil desires are worldly pleasures and most would agree that selfishness is of the world. We see it all the time.
Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. – Colossians 3:13
You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them.
When James penned this scripture he had seen the history of our civilization and he forecasted precisely what happens in our lives. We covet many things and it is very hard not to. We watch happy families on Facebook, see tweets of happiness and achievements, and we are Instagram’d to death with smiling faces and selfies. It’s hard not to want what others have. It’s hard not to try to make or mold others into what we desire. So we fight and wage war. Hate, anger, and bitterness builds and it becomes our weapon of destruction. Weapons so powerful that they can destroy whole nations or one relationship at a time.
Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one can fully share its joy. – Proverbs 14:10
Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.
The Spirit really has convicted me at times on this one. How easy it is to pray and feel good about it not realizing that my prayers revolve about what I want and need and not about God’s will. The will that may call me to change and not the other person or situation. This one is tough. It calls us to place ourselves in the hands of the Creator and allow Him to maneuver us through a difficult situation. It is allowing us to be loved when we don’t want to love. It is risking that we may have to change.
God has shown throughout the Bible that His love for us is not so much about the romantic feeling of happiness that we glamorize today but the act of love that gives us freedom. Freedom to live without the need for wars and freedom that breaks us from the bondage of our emotions. A freedom that allows us to flourish and to not wilt.
It all starts with accepting Jesus into our lives and allowing the Spirit to transform us. It will be a journey and we will never be perfect. We were created with emotions and that will never change but there is one expectation that we can count on.
God will fight for us and will never forsake us.