The burger you got doesn’t look like the one pictured on the menu…
The hotel you’re staying in sure looked nicer on the website than in person…
I still can’t slam dunk even when I’m wearing my new Jordans…
Unmet expectations. They happen all the time. And while it’s somewhat expected at a restaurant, a hotel, or with a clothing item, what happens when God doesn’t meet your expectations?
My wife was in a bad car accident a few months ago. It messed her back up and it’s changed our lives as a family. She’s been unable to do much with our family, travel long distances, hold our son, and even clean the house. For months, we’ve prayed for healing. And for months she’s visited the chiropractor (with a couple ER visits sprinkled in there for good measure).
Then Tuesday happened.
The Awaken staff hosts 1 of the 10 Unruined Prayer Groups that meet during the week. It began pretty normal, but at the end, Jenn broke down in tears as she prayed for healing. We anointed her with oil, and prayed. And we kept praying. We cried out to God and we cried. For over an hour, we begged God to heal my wife.
I’ve never seen someone be healed. I’ve seen the fanatical preachers on TV telling people to get out of their wheelchairs, and pushing them over into the waiting hands of the people catchers (I don’t know what else you call those guys who catch people that the preacher pushes).
It was the perfect setup. In tears, and with humble confidence and faith in the Healer, we were surrounded by 20 or so people who love us, and were asking God to intervene. As I cried and prayed, I couldn’t wait for God to heal my wife. I’d get my wife back, my kids would have mom back, and best of all, we’d have a story to tell to our chiropractor and his staff, and our church! If Jesus can raise the dead and make the blind see, I knew He could straighten by wife’s back and align her hips so she can walk without pain.
But He didn’t.
And He still hasn’t.
Two days later, she’s limping, sore, and still heading in for an MRI.
What happened? It seemed perfect. Tears. Faith. Love. Prayer. I don’t say this lightly, but it was one of the most powerful times of corporate prayer I’ve ever been part of. But the outcome was not what I expected.
Have you been there?
He didn’t fix your marriage.
He didn’t take away your lust problem.
He didn’t heal your disease.
He didn’t prevent that miscarriage.
I don’t have answers for you, but I do have a couple reminders.
Speaking of John the Baptizer, Jesus said, “Among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John…” That’s quite the statement coming from Jesus Himself! John must have done something pretty incredible for Jesus to make a statement like that, right?
John was in prison. As John took inventory of his situation, he realized that this Messiah wasn’t measuring up to his expectations. So he sent a couple of his disciples to ask Jesus if He really was the Christ or if they should be looking for someone else.
Jesus reminded John that He had raised the dead, made the blind see, and preached the Gospel. That’s quite the resume! But there were a couple things that didn’t make it onto Jesus’ resume: breaking John out of prison or keeping him from being beheaded. Both of those happened.
If you’ve questioned God or felt like He didn’t measure up, you’re in good company. Things didn’t go John’s way either, and he couldn’t understand why.
God pursues us at our worst. Romans 5 says Jesus was sent to die for us while we were still sinners. God is constantly inviting us into a relationship with Him, meanwhile, He is fully aware of our limitations, sin, questions, and insecurities. Those don’t stop Him, in fact, they make Him intervene all the more.
Jesus said that He didn’t come for those who were well, but for the sick. He invites the weary and heavy-laden to come to Him. He says we should cast our cares on Him. Why? Because He cares for us!
Just like you should bring your sin to God, you should also bring your questions and your doubts. He can handle them.
Isaiah 55 reminds us God’s ways are higher than ours. God is infinite and we are finite, so He does things in ways and at times our flawed, sinful, selfish minds can’t comprehend. Sometimes we have the benefit of being able to look back and see how God worked through circumstances we didn’t understand at the time. Other times, we have to choose to trust even when it seems illogical.
Paul begged for God to take away his “thorn in the flesh.” God flat out told Paul no. How did Paul handle that answer? It didn’t shake his faith. It strengthened his faith and changed his perspective. He learned to rejoice in his weaknesses because those were the areas where God’s grace shined the brightest.
Jesus said that we should pray and not lose heart. When God answers prayer like we ask and even when He doesn’t, choose to rest and trust. He’s got you!