In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice;
In the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait in expectation. (Psalm 5:3, NIV)
Expectations are tricky things. They can produce excitement about the future; anticipation can add to the pleasure of the eventual experience. The expectation that our efforts have value and meaning, that our work will pay off in some way, can help us persevere in hard things. But the disappointment of unmet expectations can be painful, even devastating at times. When our expectations are repeatedly unmet, we often become cynical and begin to expect the worst instead of the best. Some of us try to combat the temptation of cynicism by setting “reasonable” or “realistic” expectations. But sometimes we don’t even know we have expectations until disappointment stabs us and we discover that we were expecting something that did not happen.
In light of all this, perhaps you can understand why, as I’ve been meditating on Psalm 5 the past few weeks, I stumbled a bit over the idea of expectation in verse 3. If I am going to follow David’s example in prayer, I should bring my requests to God and “wait expectantly” (NLT). The problem is that I’ve been disappointed by God sometimes, and I’d like to avoid experiencing that pain again. What should I expect from God?
In his book Because of Christmas, Max Lucado writes: “If [God] is willing to be born in a barnyard, then expect Him to be at work anywhere—bars, bedrooms, board rooms, and brothels. No place is too common. No person is too hardened. No distance is too far. There is no limit to His love.” (Emphasis mine)
I should expect the God who went to such great lengths to prove that He is Emmanuel—God with Us—to listen and care about my concerns. No issue is too small, no problem is too big for us to bring to the God who loves us with an everlasting love and draws us to Himself with loving-kindness (see Jeremiah 31:3). I should expect God to be at work in every situation because Emmanuel is always working (John 5:17). I should expect God to “orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful ” because I love Him and have accepted His invitation to live in His kingdom (Romans 8:28, VOICE).
Not all of my wants and desires will be fulfilled, or at the very least, not always in the ways I would want them to be. As much as I want to avoid the pain of disappointment with God, living here on earth in my present state means that is always a potential. At the same time, I can expect God to listen to the deep cry of my heart with love and do His good work in me and in the situations that concern me.
May we be confident that the God of Love listens to us. May we expect Him to always be at work in us and around us. And may we have the grace to recognize the good that He is doing.