Expectations and Resentments
Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near. Revelation 1:3
We went to see The Jesus Revolution last night. I’d highly recommend it, but there was a brief subplot to which I found myself objecting. In this side story, a man, hopelessly addicted to drugs, was instantly healed when he encountered Christ. I’ve been delivered. My objection wasn’t that I don’t believe this can happen. I know those who’ve experienced a similar miracle. My objection rather, has to do with resentment. I wanted that miracle. In my own drug addiction, I went to God, begging for instant deliverance. Instead, he told me to confess, go to treatment, and change my life. I didn’t want to do any of those things, so I remained in my addiction, nearly destroying myself. I expected God to work in a certain way and when he didn’t do exactly what I wanted, I resented him for it.
I do this not infrequently. I know how the world should work and I expect God to make it so. When he doesn’t, I’m resentful. At the core of resentment is my unfair, unreasonable expectations. In my self-centeredness, I demand that God work on my timetable, doing what I think is best. If God is truly God though, then his ways are so far beyond me that I will rarely see or understand what he’s doing until he’s done it. The solution to my resentment is to trust God, not expecting him to do everything my way and in my timing.
I suspect I’m not alone here. In reading today’s passage, I would bet that Christians through the centuries have had unmet expectations of God. In the passage, John prophesied about the end of the world, declaring that the time is near. It wasn’t though, not by our standards. It’s been 2,000 years. Has any of this stuff happened? No? Well then where is God? What is he doing? In believing, we have expectations. When they’re not met, we experience doubt and resentment.
If I’m disappointed in my faith, either God’s doing something wrong or I am. One thing I’ve learned through my addiction is that the failure is never with God. If one of us is in the wrong, it’s me. I have flawed expectations. I have misconceptions. God’s timing isn’t my timing. Yes, I can expect that God loves me and forgives me, but I don’t get to dictate how he runs the world. My job is to daily point my life at him, trusting and obeying him. If I find myself resentful, it’s because I’ve not been doing that.